The hardest part about being a teen

sazuna45 asks: What do you think is the hardest part about being a teen? And sometimes do you have those days when you feel like doing nothing except curling into a ball and wishing your day was over. What do you suggest I do if I ever feel that way? And is it okay to feel like that?

Hi Sazuna45 –

Wow! Trying to determine the hardest part of being a teen is like asking which is the hardest part of the Iditarod, or the most difficult sport in the Olympics! They’re all hard!

I think my better answer to that would be to say what I think the nature of being a teenager is.

All transitions are difficult. If you’re sitting down right now, and you slowly stand up, the two easy, comfortable parts of that will be sitting and standing; all the work goes into the drawn-out process of getting yourself up there. Adolescence, or teenhood, is the biggest transition humans ever go through, after their birth. Babies and children grow, but teens change. Their bodies change shape, their hormones change, their skin and hair change, their feelings about their families and their friends change, their voices change… it’s just huge.

But just like that slow standing up, it’s not like these changes happen overnight. They all take a while. And the time they take is often painful, almost always embarrassing, and highly unpredictable – both for the teen and for everyone around them.

How often is one teen compared to others?

“Why aren’t you as mature as Steven?” “Haven’t you had your first period yet?” “You’re too young to be getting zits, you must be doing something wrong!”

It would sure be great if it were all instant. If a ten-year-old child went to bed and woke up a twenty-two year-old adult. But that’s just not the way it happens.

So when you ask what the hardest part about being a teen is, that would be my answer: the fact that something seems to be wrong, all the time. That a boy and a girl who’ve been best friends suddenly find everything ruined because one of them started to develop real romantic feelings for the other. Or that a teen is embarrassed in the locker room because they haven’t started growing body hair yet. Or that a teen who’s particularly emotionally mature starts working hard to get top grades, and everyone else in their class resents them.

Life’s hard enough as a child or an adult. But for teens, it just seems to be all the time. And that’s the hardest thing of all.

Okay, onto the other part of your question: do I ever curl up into a ball and avoid the world? Sazuna45, I am a DOG! I do that a few times every day!

But it sounds like you’re talking about feeling bad and wanting to just escape your life. Well, I don’t get that nearly as often, but yes, I’ve been there.

I went there when I had an operation, and was in pain and couldn’t leave my cage. I went there when I really upset Handsome, so badly that he shut me outdoors and wouldn’t even speak to me. I went there when I was so lonely I couldn’t stand it.

In other words, Sazuna45, I go there when life is just intolerable.

Then you ask what to do when you feel that way? My dear friend, I suggest doing exactly what you describe. Curling up in that ball and comforting yourself.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling sad or lost or abandoned or miserable. The great mistake lots of humans do is to try to get rid of that feeling with artificial means.

Oh don’t get me wrong. If you drink till you vomit, or snort or shoot or smoke something, or mutilate your beautiful perfect skin, it will take that pain away. For a moment. And then you’ll feel worse – with hangovers, embarrassment, legal problems, etc.

No, the best thing to do is to truly be good to yourself. If you feel like curling up in a ball, that’s great. If you feel like going off by yourself and sitting on a rock and looking at nature, that’s just terrific.

And if you feel like cuddling up to a dog and bursting into tears and letting that pooch lick them off your face and tell you you’re wonderful… well that might just be the best of all.

What’s most important, though, is that you always remember that whatever awful stuff is going on then, tomorrow the sun will rise again, the birds will sing, and you can face the world anew, and make things better for yourself.

I promise!

All my best,


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