As a teenager, learning to embrace yourself and what makes you unique can be challenging. Self-compassion, the act of treating yourself with kindness, openness, and acceptance, is often easier said than done.
Loving yourself can be one of the most important things to focus on as a teenager because it sets the stage for the relationship you have with yourself for many years to come. Embracing your unique self is the cornerstone of setting and pursuing personal goals; the goals you discover as you mature and discover new interests and passions that you weren’t aware of before.
Setting goals is a healthy way to prioritize your own dreams and aspirations instead of following the crowd and doing what everyone else is doing. We encourage goal setting as a tool of creating self-awareness and also building self-management skills for later in life.
Learning to Set Goals that Match Your Dreams
When goal-setting, ask yourself these questions:
- What is important to me?
- Why is it important to me?
After you have a list of your values, you can use those to define goals that matter to you.
For example, say you are trying to figure out how you want to spend your summer. Your parents have offered to pay for a couple of weeks of summer camp, but you have to decide between science camp and soccer camp. One friend is going to a science camp, and one is going to a different art camp. You wouldn’t really know anyone at soccer camp, and both friends are encouraging you to join them, so you aren’t sure what to do.
Ask yourself, “What is important to me?” If the answer is spending time with your friends all summer, your decision is easy enough.
In contrast, if your answer falls along the lines of wanting to play more soccer and improve your ball-handling skills before tryouts in the Fall, that is a goal worth exploring! If spending more time playing soccer is important to you because you want to make the JV team next year, you have your answer. Soccer camp, here you come!
This exercise is simple, but it can be applied to many situations that involve making decisions that aren’t always black and white.
Acknowledging what is important to you (and why) is key to embracing your unique self. If you make decisions based on what your friends are doing and ignore the passions you feel on the inside, you’ll be missing out on so much opportunity and self-growth.
Why Pursuing Things You Love is Worth It
It’s also worth noting that as you pursue the things you love, you will meet like-minded people along the way. They may not be your ‘usual’ friends, but you have things in common that brought you together. As you learn to embrace your true interests and the things that make you different from your friends, you will build other communities of friends in the process.
Learning to embrace yourself is never an easy journey, but it’s always worth it. When you settle to follow the crowd because it’s easier and more comfortable, you are selling yourself short of so much potential! If the people you surround yourself with are true friends, they won’t care if you choose soccer camp over science camp; they’ll be there to cheer you on at soccer tryouts and will be at every game when you make the team.
It can be scary to break the mold and be different. You were born with courage and curiosity, and you can use those qualities to discover your passions, goals, and who you are meant to be. When you embrace yourself, you are creating your own path in life and fully accepting the real you.
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