There are a million metaphors and similes about life. It’s a roller coaster, it’s like a box of chocolates, and it’s a journey, yet these comparisons have implicit reminders that sometimes life is hard. There are ups and downs, there are various surprises, and it’s a long road we must continue walking with moments of struggle. Some may find this sentiment beautiful, but for others, those who crave routine, peace, and stability, these metaphors are tough truths.
The uncertainty of life stems from many things. Some are internal as the body ages and others are external factors relating to fate, yet both connect to one word: control. Unfortunately, we cannot control fate—internally or externally—but we can control how we react to it all.
Internal and External Factors
It may be an uncomfortable topic, but puberty is real. It brings about significant changes to our bodies, our emotions, and our perspectives. These changes alter mood and can cause teens to feel jaded, tired, or even the vast opposite. Along with the internal changes of the body comes the external consequences. This could look like growth spurts, voice changes, and personality changes that can cause unwanted attention. Put two and two together and you have an awkward math problem.
Besides hormonal issues and physiological happenings in the body, most of our emotions are connected to the outside world. Think about it in terms of literature and the fact that books are centered around conflict. We are humans, humans have emotions, and emotions create conflict. But conflict doesn’t magically arise. External forces affect us, trigger us, and force us to confront whatever is happening. So, while our emotions play a huge factor, they connect to catalysts in the external world.
On top of all that, we have another aspect of the external world called expectation. As teens, we are expected to do the chores, go to school, get a job, possibly go to college, and so much more. Then, there are topics like gender norms, cultural norms, and societal norms that attempt to force us into another box. It’s as if we are in a maze, and we are getting pushed to turn right then left then right again. We don’t really know where we are going, yet we know we are supposed to keep moving forward.
Now think about this new internal world mixed with a new external world. It can feel like the recipe for disaster, and for some of us, we are already experiencing this war. The bottom line here is that this is normal, everyone goes through it, and not every day is going to be a good day. Many people want to preach “good vibes only” and the power of a positive attitude, but the reality is that because we have emotions and myriad external factors, we are undoubtedly going to experience the drops on the roller coaster. However, the drops don’t last forever, and when we accept this truth and process our emotions while they are occurring, we can take negative moments as they come, release them, and return to joy.
Balance and Shifting Perspective
Unlike a roller coaster or box of chocolates, we don’t have a choice when it comes to, well, choice. We are on the ride, we don’t know the outcome, and to find balance, we must accept this idea first. You can find balance by shifting your perspective. Instead of saying, “I hate this ride,” switch the narrative to, “I’m excited to see where it takes me.” If you hate the big dips, focus on cherishing the straightaways and practicing gratitude while they are occurring. If you bite into a candy with a nut and you wanted caramel, remind yourself you can try again.
We want to be present in our darker moments because we want to avoid repressing these experiences. During the drops, try this perspective shift. Instead of asking, “why is this happening to me?” ask, “what is this trying to teach me?” See the difference? Instead of playing the victim to fate, you put the power back in your hands by becoming an adventurer, the warrior of your story. It’s not always easy, but when we finally look under the bed, we realize the monster isn’t so big, and sometimes, it was never there to begin with.
Just because we experience the dips doesn’t mean we have to sit in those moments and stay there. Just like the ride, we won’t constantly be plummeting down. The moment will pass, as will every other emotion and experience. When we are present, we can acknowledge the difficult moments, and more importantly, we can enjoy the good.
It can be difficult to balance all of the emotional and physical changes of adolescence. If you or someone you know is struggling to balance and is using substances to cope, professional help is always a great option. The Bougainvilla House offers adolescent behavioral health programs for individuals and families. Call us today to see how we can help 954-764-7337 , or use our convenient Contact form.