Dear Teen: Two Simple Things
Updated: May 8
Today marks the beginning of spring. Normally, you would delight in the warmer weather, the sunshine, and the activities that await you in the next short months. Games, sports, and hangouts. Field trips. Proms. Cotillions. Senior week. Spring love. Joy rides. 8th/12th/College graduations. Celebrations that are hallmark and epic for your age.. experiences that you deserve. I want to tell you that I get it. I get what it must feel like to be you at this place and time in your life. You are not wrong. And you are not alone.
I understand that it can feel unsettling when such rites of passage may be suspended for the immediate future; that not being able to see your best friend, boyfriend, girlfriend or crush is painstakingly tormenting. I know what it is like to miss the way a special someone smells, smiles, or looks at you; to live for that brief exchange or impromptu laugh in the hallway. I vividly remember what it is like to be with someone and to feel that the world makes insta-sense when you exist in it together.
I suspect you may also be nervous about your grades, your ACTs, your baseball/softball tournaments, letters of your acceptance to college, future employment opportunities (heck even summer work gigs). And that you may be trying your best to keep it together and not worry the adults around you as you try your best to hide from them that you are more nervous than you let on. You are brave. And smart.
Your generation is being called in a different way. You are being called to reorganize. You are being called to show the world how amazing you are; how you cope when life routines get flipped on their head; how you can creatively find the means to do what you enjoy; how to use technology like a nimble ninja to maintain your relationships, send messages of humor and love, express your creativity, and tiktok and snap your way further into your inner circle’s minds and hearts. You are so skilled at this and us adults can learn from you.
If there is anything I know with confidence from my work and time spent counseling hundreds of teenagers across my career is this: you will figure out a way. You will relentlessly think of and craft ways to ensure that you receive what important to you, including these rites of passage noted above. That once this period is over (and have no doubt it will be) you will come together with the adults you love and trust and you will figure out how to make it all happen—prom, senior week, social celebrations, and plain old catch up fun. If anyone can do this—it’s you. Because you have the fearlessness in you to know that when your heart wants something and when you’ve worked hard to earn something—you WILL find a way to make it happen.
So, I encourage you this: start visualizing. Start planning. Start chatting with one another about HOW you are going to make this happen when normalcy resumes. Who are the key players? Set up your group chats. Rope them into this problem-solving. Stay connected.
And, in the interim, as you wait for normal life to resume, I humbly challenge to do two simple things daily:
1. Create. That’s right. Create. Create something. Every. Single. Day. Lean into your creativity and into anything that sparks joy in your heart and use it to create. Pick up that pen and write. Pick up that brush and paint. Pick up that guitar and play. Write that poem. Finish that song. Paint that landscape. Make that playlist. Craft that meal. Create something every day, just for you. This will help open up your soul and remind you of the beauty that lies within you when you channel your attention there on a daily basis.
2. Savor. Share the above with someone each day. This will help you discover a deeper level of joy as you offer a real and meaningful piece of yourself to another being (pets included).
One final and CRUCIAL footnote (please be sure to keep this one in your pocket): You don’t need to be physically connected to one another to keep your hearts in sync. Some of the greatest love stories and friendships of all time (both in history and in literature) have included distance for some period of time. Don’t underestimate the power of love. Not for one minute. Reach out. Share your joy. Share your love. And I promise that when that anticipated reunion comes—it will be even sweeter than anything you’ve ever known or could ever imagine.