Recently I was interviewed by a 16-year-old girl for a teen blog on the topic of self-esteem. Below is part of that interview.
How can a girl be a good friend to her peers who seem to have personal struggles?
Having a close friend, a “best friend” or a group of friends that you can talk to openly is incredibly important for every girl. Sometimes there are things you just want to talk to a friend about. If a peer is dealing with a struggle and she comes to you/confides in you, that’s very important. It means that she feels safe with you and trust you as a friend. First and foremost, just being there to listen is always appreciated. Don’t think that you have to have all the answers. Just talking about something that maybe you have struggled with as well helps her feel not so alone in her situation. However, if your friend is struggling with something that could be damaging to herself, you can be supportive and listen, but you may need some input or guidance from an adult. That is a lot of responsibility for you to take on and you may need to talk to someone who has more experience in that area. A few suggestions would be: You can go with her and talk to your school counselor or you could go with her and talk to a family member. Bottom line, letting her know that you’re there for her whether you have all the answers or not is probably the most important thing.
How does a girl’s self-esteem in high school affect what happens to her later on?
The high school years are a critical time in a teen’s life. This is the time that developmental psychologists call “identity vs. role confusion.” Which just means, you are trying to figure out what you like , independent of your friends and family, and you are trying to decide who you want to become. So much is going on with a girl at this age mentally, physically and emotionally. Being comfortable with who you are is key. Having a positive relationship with your parents and having a group of girlfriends who you can trust is also important. If issues or challenges aren’t worked out during this phase in your life, chances are a girl will continue to deal with the same issues and struggles into college. Don’t keep things inside. Tell others how you feel. The #1 mistake I see from teens is not telling their parents when they are dealing with a big issue. Trust me, if you are dealing with something that you see as a struggle, your parents want to know about it and want to help you.
Adaptability has everything to do with being prepared for whatever life presents you with each and every day. For many of us we get caught up in daily routines. Daily routines provide comfort which is fine; however, when something changes in that routine for many teens it can be hard to handle. Once this occurs, they can feel disjointed, even depressed. Because of that one curveball, the rest of their day can seem ruined. This doesn’t have to happen. Be ready for whatever comes your way. Adapt to the change. How do you do this? By taking up different interests and different activities. Keep trying new things, and meet new people. Move beyond your comfort zone as often as possible. The teens I see with the best adaptability skills tend to have 1 thing in common. They work part-time or volunteer on a consistent basis. Why does this work? Because, you have to be ready for whatever comes your way when you work or volunteer. You get thrown multiple curve balls at the same time. You have to be responsible, on time, take directions well and execute. One day you may be answering the phones, another day you may be working on a computer screen while other days you may be interacting with customers. The unknown is good for you. You will be nervous in the beginning, but with time you build comfort in the process. This in turn builds confidence and self-esteem. Interacting with other adults and peers that aren’t your family, neighbors, friends, teammates or teachers tests your comfort zone and prepares you to become a stronger communicator down the road. Don’t stick to the same routine, challenge yourself and learn to roll with the punches. That way your whole day can’t be ruined by one problem or obstacle in your way. You get past it, adapt and move on.
She’s a petite 17-year-old girl, with little makeup and a kind smile. She is an only child. She has good relationships with her friends and loves to talk with them about boys, school stress, and gossip. She would never talk specifically about struggle she’s dealing with at home, but she will hint about them indirectly with her friends. She doesn’t talk to any of her friends about serious issues that she’s dealing with nor does she talk to her parents. I innocently asked, who’s there for you? Her response,“that’s why I now have a therapist.” She explained how when she was 16 years old she had everything bottled up inside her and struggled with depression, extreme mood swings and sought solace in drugs and alcohol. She talked about how her depression hit an all-time low at one point and she overdosed. Her drug of choice ecstasy and alcohol of choice vodka. Once this happened she had to come clean to her parents and tell them about the depression and obviously the drugs and alcohol. She was extremely scared because she had never opened up to them about “anything” before. When she told her parents about the drug issue her mom cried and her dad was sad. She was surprised by how open and comforting they were about her situation and sent her to rehab. The thing she feels the worse about is that by coming clean to her parents, she’s basically admitting to them that they don’t know her. She’s been lying to them. Lying about who she is and what she does. This truly bothered her the most. She said that time heals all when talking about going into treatment for her drug and alcohol issues. She then tells me that on top of the drug and alcohol issues and the depression, she also had an eating disorder. She had become anorexic for a period of time as a form of control over her life. She felt hiding the eating disorder was very easy to do. She stressed to me that it had nothing to do with body image at all, it was all about control.