22 Nov, 2018

Growing up doesn’t have to be the worst.

No, really! You can handle all the changes your teen years will throw at you. Here’s three basic tips to surviving puberty:

1.    Don’t play the comparison game.

It’s easy to sulk down the hallway thinking, “That guy over there makes me look like a shrimp,” or “How come I don’t have curves like her?” or “I feel like bigfoot compared to everybody else.”

STOP.

Are those thoughts getting you anywhere? Nope. So don’t let the comparison game ruin your teenage years. This is a time of changes, both exciting and nerve-wrecking, for everybody. Yes, EVERYBODY. You and all of your peers will go through puberty. You’ll go through pretty much the same changes, but the process isn’t exactly the same for everybody. And that’s totally okay! Whether you’re the first kid with a mustache or the last one to get her period, know that you are in no way a freak of nature. Everyone’s body develops at a different rate–nothing wrong with that!

2.    Remember you are YOU.

And that’s so cool. When you find yourself comparing your body to another’s (and we all fall into that sometimes), stop for a sec. Breathe. Ask yourself, “Is this a healthy thought?” and then ask yourself, “What would be a healthier thought?” Instead of being jealous of that person or disrespecting their body, think about how you could help that person out today, even in a little way. Give them an appropriate compliment. Ask them how their day is going. To give yourself the care you need, talk to a trusted family member or friend about how you’re feeling. Just opening up about the fact that you find yourself in the comparison game will help you get out of that cycle. Don’t get lost in your head; replace those spinning thoughts with real, kind actions.

3.    Find your go-to adult.

We all have questions about our bodies. And all of us–kids and adults–need at least one person we can go to when we need to talk about something. Especially as you’re growing up, it’s so important to have a trusted adult in your life you can open up to, someone who has experience and wisdom that your peers don’t have yet. Someone who wants what’s best for you. An adult who encourages you, respects you, and makes you feel safe.

Who is that for you? A parent, grandparent, friend’s parent, teacher, your youth organization leader, school counselor–whoever it is–find at least one person to be your go-to adult. The person you ask questions, vent to when you’ve had a rough day, and seek advice from when you’re in a pickle.

4.    Don’t Google.

Especially when it comes to questions about the human body and relationships, don’t rely on Google. There are way too many unhealthy ideas out there on the internet about these topics for us to safely explore on our own. Google doesn’t care about you, but your go-to adult does!

5.    Try new things.

Deodorant, face wash, shampoo, razors, feminine hygiene products…the puberty shopping list goes on (link to our puberty shopping list page). And the Wal-Mart aisles can be pretty darn overwhelming. SO. MANY. BRANDS. How do you know which one to choose? When it comes to figuring out your personal hygiene routine, know that it’s going to be a lot of trial and error. Ask your friends and family for recommendations, but also keep in mind that everyone’s body is different and their fav products might not jive with you. Check out the travel-size aisle. You can get tiny samples of shampoos, deodorant, and all that other wonderful body-cleany stuff. That way you can try out a product before buying a whole big package.

Trying new things doesn’t just apply to personal hygiene. During puberty, your emotions can change a lot. One moment you could feel super happy and all unicorns and ice cream, and the next you might be sobbing and have no idea why. But don’t freak out: these mood swings are normal. Try out different healthy ways to deal with these emotional roller coasters. Go on a walk, journal, color, talk to a friend, shoot hoops, listen to music. Just don’t hide your emotions, or attempt to drown them out with unhealthy activities like drugs, alcohol, or porn. Those things will only make your problems 100,000,000x worse.

You also might find that your interests are changing during puberty. This is a great time to try new activities. Get your friends together for a pick-up game of a new sport. Take a cooking class. Audition for the school play. Why wait to find out what you’re passionate about?

Puberty can be rough, but don’t let it get the best of you. The hardest things in life are usually what teach us and strengthen us the most. You’ll survive, there’s a whole bunch of adults on the other side of puberty that did! You’re not alone.

By Kath Crane