Dr. Val FarmerDr.Val
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Teenagers Face Life's Disappointments

March 2, 1998

"Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children." - George Bernard Shaw

A major paradox of life is that wisdom grows with age while the time we need it most is during those impressionable teenage years. If we could only transfer wisdom to youth so they could avoid the mistakes and missteps of life!

When parents try to warn teens of the pitfalls that await them, teens are at a stage of life where they discount adults the most. They seem determined to learn the lessons of life the hard way.

Teenagers, here is my list of possible troubles and some of the hard lessons of life to be learned.

Some of you will face the tragic death of a loved one or friend. You may experience family conflict, a parental divorce or suffer abuse. Loneliness, rejection, failure, accidents, illness and injury may become part of your life. Some of you have already felt unwanted pain and hurt.

Have faith and courage. God lives. Life is meant to be good and has meaning. Someday, you will have peace. You have the responsibility to do your best and bear up under heavy burdens.

Some of you will know the heartache of a failed romance - a desertion or rejection of your very self. The pain is intense. You feel helpless when one you care about chooses not to care for you.

Accept it. You cannot make anyone love you. There are others who will.

Friends can be fickle. They may not be who you think they are. They change. You change. Something comes between you. Worse yet, you may even experience the treachery of someone who violates your trust and betrays you.

Make new friends. Hold on to the good ones you have.

Life isn't always fair. Someone in authority will judge you and let you down. Politics and connections will deprive you of something that is rightfully yours. You may be cheated, swindled or robbed. Perhaps you will experience the subtle rejection of someone you admire and respect. Perhaps they do not care when they should care.

Be prepared to live with injustice. People are not perfect. Even the best. It is your own opinion of yourself that counts.

Someday an organization may treat you as if you are expendable and dispensable. This may happen despite your dedication, contributions and loyalty.

What you are and who you are makes a difference. Family and friends count. You are not irreplaceable.

Even family, siblings and good friends can prove all too human. Family will not always act like family should. Someday someone you care about will do you a great wrong. Anger and bitterness will cripple your spirit.

You are alone - except for God. Be strong for the days when no one is at your side. Forgive them, even if they have no right to forgiveness. Forgiveness will let you cleanse your own soul and allow you to put the hurt behind you.

Some wounds are self-inflicted. You will make mistakes. Life is full of difficult choices. Important decisions have to be made with insufficient data. Sometimes your emotions take over. Perhaps even your best effort will not be good enough.

The pathway to success is strewn with mistakes. Even champions have slumps. If you learn from mistakes and become better, then mistakes are OK. You have the power to change the things you need to change.

Some of you may find yourself trapped by an enslaving habit, an addiction or a compulsion. You will feel ashamed and helpless.

You are human. You are also responsible. Seek help. It is never too late. Don't give up. Find the strength to overcome your own demons.

Someday you will not stand up for your cause or conscience when you should.

You will have other chances to be loyal to yourself and what you believe. Then you will be courageous. Stand for something. Stand for right despite the cost.

You may try to do too much. You won't be focused and life will wear you down.

Accept your limitations. You have a gift but not all gifts. You can't have it all. Say no to yourself and to others. You can't please everyone, nor should you try.

Even accomplishments can be hollow. Fame is fleeting, material things have no life and pleasure is momentary.

Make people count. Fill your life with meaningful relationships. Let love and service be a part of your life. Make good memories.

Someday you will feel overwhelmed by life and feel like giving in. The pain will seem too great.

You are bigger than your circumstances. You can come back. You are wiser now. There is a way. Be patient with life. Allow time to heal your wounds. Seek out a confidant. You need to sort out your confusion, discouragement and fear.

Someday you may even wonder if life is worth living. You may wonder when and if it will ever be better.

Life is precious. You are adaptable. Things won't always be the same as they are today. There will be many days of happiness and joy ahead of you. Today's troubles will fade into yesterday's memories. We are counting on you to be your best when things are at their worst.