Most of our educational systems train us to meet the abstract expectations in an industrial process (Seth Godin dreams about an educational system built more around wonder here). In learning to memorize, regurgitate information, and defend arguments analytically, we exercise our logic and respond to presented questions. But this doesn’t prepare us for the pressures of adulthood in its mess of chaotic emotions, complicated relationships, and demand for critical thinking. We joke about having to learn Algebra without learning how to do taxes, but we also don’t know how to resolve conflict well. We crash into university (and our first jobs!) without understanding ourselves, obsessed with others’ expectations, unspoken pressures forging pathways for our futures based on capabilities, social need and financial reward.
What if we understood ourselves better in this formational time?
What if we could articulate our relationship to commitment or planning?
What if we had language to describe our core values, our belief system, that wasn’t primarily defensive?
What if our friends understood our need for dreaming about the future without a pragmatic demand to address the obstacles immediately?
What if we addressed our fear of failure by compassionately distinguishing our view of success from everyone else’s standard?
We will discover a lot of ourselves as we encounter tougher assignments, living on our own, making our way in new cities and new jobs, but what if we had language for how we responded to pressure differently before we introduced these new stresses?
Growth in self-awareness is helpful at any time point in our lives, but having conversations with teenagers about these types of pressures in a safe way will help them prepare for the crucible of adulthood well. Help model this type of self-awareness appreciation for the teenagers in your life by discovering your unique wiring with a tool like CliftonStrengths, celebrating who you are by having an “awareness session” with a Strengths coach, and offer what you’re learning about yourself to the growing young humans around you. They’ll notice more than they let on, and it’s likely that your own growth will inspire them deeply.
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