Teenagers -- do you stay at home all the time, afraid to venture out and meet new people? Do you feel stupid, guilty, or ugly? Ask any teenager walking by and they will give you at least one insecurity that is tormenting them. It gets so bad sometimes that some teenagers shut themselves off from the world around them or even develop psychosomatic symptoms. Insecurity is a lack of confidence: low self-esteem. Most experts tell us, however, that by living in all this negativity, teenagers are wasting their time. They’re not able to see the true beauty in themselves.
According to teenage mental health website Reach Out, teenage insecurities are a problem because a great number of teenagers hate themselves for what they cannot fix. This usually happens because teenagers with low self-esteem normally view themselves differently from how others view them. This problem can manifest itself in many different ways according to Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. from Psychology Today. Teenagers could be depressed, or afraid to go out in public. Many teenagers also may have trouble sleeping, and display aggression, withdrawal, or anxiety. This problem can be particularly hard when they’re starting out at a new school, trying new activities, or trying to make new friends. The most common way of becoming insecure is comparing yourself, or being compared with someone else according to the experts at Middle Earth. All of us have experiences in this unpleasant thing that we do to ourselves or are subjected to sometimes. While this is a common experience, teens are especially susceptible to falling into this trap.
|[Interview with one of the five friends I interviewed, Emily. Photo by Hyungsun Kim.]|
I know my insecurity: I constantly compare myself with people taller than me. Then it occurred to me that, maybe, some of my friends might have insecurities of their own. I just had to find out. I interviewed five of my school friends in seventh grade. Lo and behold, all of them turned out to have many insecurities about themselves. Emily in particular said that she used to wear only oversized clothes because she felt she was too fat. “Ever since I entered middle school, I noticed people comparing their waist sizes. I became so insecure about my body to the point where I began starving myself. It wasn’t until I moved to the UAE that people around me didn't point out each other’s weight. This was what I needed. I stopped looking at myself in the mirror asking ‘I can’t wear this. This shows my fat body.’ I began to ask instead, ‘What can I possibly benefit from being insecure like this when there's nothing I can do about it?’,” - said Emily. She now feels that she is beautiful the way she is. She went from a very insecure girl to a girl full of confidence.
|[“Am I good enough?” is a question many teenagers often ask themselves. Photo credit Hyungsun Kim.]|
So what are teenagers to do? First of all, you need to notice your own behavior and redirect your thoughts. Specifically, you need to recognize when you are starting to compare yourself to others, and simply push it away and think positively. Second, remind yourself that nobody is perfect. As Middle Earth states, we normally tend to compare our worst to others’ best. We tend to conceal our difficulties and highlight our successes, so what you’re seeing of someone else’s life isn’t the whole picture. Then, identify your own strengths and celebrate yourself. Everyone has strengths, talents, and successes -- identify what yours are. Once you find them, celebrate yourself instead of wallowing in your self-made misery.
It is quite obvious that having insecurities does absolutely nothing but make you upset. You should focus on your talent or success instead. You’re a teenager only once, so don’t live it full of insecurities. The best thing to do is to push those thoughts away and tell yourself that you’re good enough. No one can decide that for you other than yourself. Being insecure just doesn’t pay.
American Community School of Abu Dhabi
Hyungsun Kim email@example.com
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