COMMENTARY 792.5: The Journey Through Adolescence

One of the toughest jobs in the world is being a teenager. Everything is in transition. Everything is intense — even apathy.

Kids on the brink of adulthood have to cope with inconsistencies and conflicts. The desire to be special and different clashes with the need to belong and fit in. The desire for independence collides with an aversion to self-reliance and personal responsibility.

Here are five suggestions for improving the journey through adolescence:

1.   Be yourself. Mindless conformity is a prison; express yourself authentically and don’t be afraid to stand out. But don’t dress or behave in extreme ways just to be different or to prove you can. You don’t need orange hair, a nose ring or tattoos to be special. In the end, it’s more important to be respected than noticed.

2.   Don’t expect too much or settle for too little. Don’t expect anyone else to make you happy, but don’t allow others to treat you badly. Hang out with people who bring out the best in you, and be the kind of person who brings out the best in others.

3.   Think of responsibility as a privilege, not a penalty.  Dependability and self-reliance are the tickets to freedom and independence. Don’t waste energy resisting what you have to do. Instead, win others’ trust by doing what you should do.

4.   Think ahead. The choices you make today will shape tomorrow. Remember that every act has a consequence. Pleasure lasts for a moment, happiness lasts much longer. Be careful: just because it feels good doesn’t make it good.

5.   Take charge of your own life. Your life is your ship; be the captain, not a passenger. Figure out what needs to be done to improve your life and make it happen. Your attitudes are more important than your aptitudes. You can’t control what happens to you, but you control what happens in you. Don’t whine, win.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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