lalkhiangte's weblog

#TeenTalks

Posted in Uncategorized by gkhiangte on November 3, 2015

This #TeenTalks is a direct result of an invitation I got from YWCA of Aizawl to speak to teenagers of St. Joseph Higher Secondary School, Ramhlun as part of the Mental Health Awareness Programme.

Teenagers today particularly the generation born during 1990s seem to be going through a lot of social anxiety and pressures. They witness the massive explosion of the Internet and consequently social media which can be very intimidating at so many levels. Suddenly, they can see and hear about everything going on in the other parts of the world. This instant visibility of different mediated cultures across the media certainly has an impact on the teens.

First of all we need to understand who we are as humans? Let us reflect what the Bible says:

~ Psalm 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

~ Sam 139:14

I hnenah lawm thu ka hrilh ang che, hlauhawm tak leh mak taka siam ka ni si a;

I thiltihte hi mak tak a ni a; chu chu ka nunna hian a hre chiang hle a ni.

~ Genesis 1:27

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

~ Ecclesiastes 7:2

This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes.

~Thuhriltu 7:29

Ngai teh, hei hi ka hriat chhuah tak chu a ni:

Pathianin tluang taka nung turin mihringte a siam a, anni erawh chuan an tikhirhkhan zo vek a ni.

Understanding Teenagers and Social Problems

Teenagers gain an increasing amount of independence from their parents as they enter middle and high school. Unlike the early years, kids in this age group often look to friends instead of parents for guidance. The pressure to fit in and be part of the “cool crowd” clouds the judgment of vulnerable kids. Now let’s look at some of the common problems faced by teenagers today:

-Teenage angst

-Peer pressure

-Body image issues/ Low self esteem

-Relationship problems

– Ambition/Job/Career/future goals

-Anxiety/Depression/Suicide

 noone-understands-me

Teenage angst

Teenagers are in the stage where they go through a roller coaster of emotions. It is biological and it is quite normal. This is a period when they feel nobody understands them, nobody gets them. It is a period when they are going through figuring out who they are as a person, trying to find their own identity and voice. Of course it is naturally tough to try to fit in with everybody and at the same time trying to be unique.

Peer Pressure

On a daily basis, teens influence their peers on everything from clothes to illegal activities. Why do they allow themselves to be swayed by peers? Fitting in and avoiding taunts is a major factor. No one wants to be left out. Kids who are curious about a certain behavior may decide to try, particularly if they think everyone else is doing it. Drinking or smoking at a party is a good example. A teen may decide to satisfy his curiosity if all of the other party guests are consuming alcohol.

Effects

Peer pressure results in poor decisions made by teens. A child who is on the fence about engaging in risky behaviors often goes along with the crowd to fit in, abandoning his own better judgment. Even teens who have refused to participate in a given activity in the past may eventually give in under peer pressure. Negative choices that routinely occur to fit in include:

-Gossiping

-Leaving others out of the group or making fun of them

-Bullying other teens, either physically or verbally

-Skipping school

-Stealing

-Engaging in sexual activity

-Breaking curfew and disrespecting parents

-Consuming alcohol or drugs

Positive Peer Pressure

While peer pressure is usually associated with negative behaviors, it is worth noting that some peer pressure results in positive outcomes. Teens have the power to use peer pressure positively by encouraging peers to make better decisions. For example, one teen might encourage a friend to avoid participating in risky behaviors or stand up for a bullying victim, thus pressuring the bully to stop.

Body Image Issues

body-positivity-and-image 

Teens today are easily influenced by what they see on the mass media: TV, Magazines, Internet and especially social media. The media is not helping in any way when it constantly supplies an endless array of what it thinks is beautiful. The media certainly plays a major role in providing a socially misconstrued image of reality to teenagers today. It could be easier for adults to decipher what is true and what is false representation of reality but it is certainly not easy for teens. Therefore, when teenagers see a young girl wearing massive amount of makeup or showing a lot of skin, they think it is what their counterparts think is ‘sexy’ and would want to look just like that girl. Social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc are influencing teens today in doing just that. The struggle to look like the next hot body, or the next pretty face is real for these teens.

funny-skinny-friend-eats-doesnt-get-fat    

There is nothing wrong in trying to look beautiful but when it reaches the level of hating one’s own natural beauty, it becomes a problem. Consider the enormous amount of fairness beauty products being sold online among these groups on Facebook or whatsapp. Someone will post a picture of a fairness cream aptly translated as “Ngona” in Mizo on one of these social media, and hundreds will immediately respond to it wanting to buy it. It continues to  add to one’s concern when young girls start taking drugs to look more fair or thinner. There is very little concern about health when it comes to their idea of ‘beauty’. Beauty does come with a price indeed.

ngona ad       

 You want Kylie Jenner’s lips. You want David Beckham’s abs. You want to look like the next Korean superstar. There is nothing wrong in looking beautiful, but the danger comes when you hate your own God Given beauty.

you are beaiftiful seek respect love-your-body-fair-image

Relationship problem

Young people fall in love and it is beautiful. The problem with today’s love story is that people die. Real love stories start to reflect reel love stories and it is scary. Teenagers take it the hardest when it comes to heartbreaks. It appears as if today, if you get your heart broken, you can’t live any more. This truly is sad news and we need to tell our young teens that it is okay to fall in love just as it is okay to fall out of love. They need to be reminded that they are still young and have ample time to find their truelove at the right time. They are going through what we call as infatuation and they need to understand that sometimes it does not last. As Christians, teens need to know that God has the best plans laid out for them in terms of a partner and that seeking His Counsel first is the first step to finding a lasting relationship.

relatioship   

Another related concern is the over sharing of private lives on social media.

relationship-problems

The constant sharing of one’s relationship statuses and problems on Facebook can become a degrading tool for these young people. It’s okay to express one’s feelings but sometimes there needs to be a line drawn in order to save teens from getting publicly humiliated.  Parents and elders need to lookout for such behavior online to protect their kids from getting hurt further more.

single 

Ambition/Job/Career/future goals

A lot of young people in our State are suffering from unemployment problems. In trying to find the reasons for it, one thing that comes to my attention is that people at a young age do not have a clear set mind on their ambition.

hardwork1 

The lack of setting a clear goal at their age is certainly one of the reasons for not getting a good job.  We need to start teaching teens today that if they want success in jobs, they need to earn it. There is no shortcut or an easy way to success.

Success-What-People-Think there-is-no-elevator work hard 

They see rockstars on TV doing their thing and living the rockstar lives and teenagers here want to live just like them. What they do not see or rather what they choose to ignore is the fact that these stars actually earned every penny they spent. They worked tirelessly mastering their craft and their success stories involve real struggles. Teens need to know that anything they want to attain in life worth attaining, they need to work for it. When you work hard for your goal, the reward is that much sweeter. 

Sweat-is-fat-crying-with-an-E-Card  

Anxiety/ Depression/Suicide

anxiety 

We hear increasing number of teens suffering from depression today than any other time. This is not shocking looking at all the things mentioned previously. Teens have an added pressure they face today and it cannot be easy. However, we also need to know that most of the problems we face are self inflicted and that many of us like to play the victim card. Teens need to know this truth and face the hard facts of life. A friend of mine is a certified Clinical Psychologist and has been giving counseling to those in need and what she has told me is harshly true. She has observed that most patients coming to her are suffering from neurosis; their problems are self inflicted and think that they cannot come out of their problems. Now, this kind of hopelessness and weakness need to be addressed seriously. We need to motivate people in making them become their own heroes and not always rely on others to help them out. At the same time, there are serious cases that cannot be put aside. The number of teens ending their own lives is truly heartbreaking and we need to do everything we can to prevent suicide.  Teens need to be reassured that they are not alone in this fight for mental health. Mental Health Awareness programmes such as this, is a good step towards securing a healthy head space for these teens.

depressed hold me

We also need to educate our kids to talk about it openly, discuss their problems with family members or friends or experts. Teens need to know that they can get help and that help can come in different forms. There are an amazing group of psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors who are ready to offer help to those in need. In all these, I wish to say that real healing can only come from God who created us, and who knows us inside out more than anybody. We only need to seek Him and He will give us the answers that we need. 

Lastly, I am extremely grateful to be able to talk to the teenagers here today. I hope our Hashtag Teen Talks have helped you in some ways. I truly hope it will motivate you to become the best person you can become. Remember, nothing holds you back than your own insecurities and being young may make you feel inferior in many ways, but do not let that dissuade you like it is written in the Bible, 1st Timothy 4:12 “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young”.

Christian-Youth-Wallpaper-3 

The keywords here are-‘Do not let’. It means it is up to you whether you let anyone look down on you or not. We need to know that we are powerful and can do anything that we set our hearts on with God’s help.

consent  

 Like youngsters say it today #YOLO: You Only Live Once, so let’s live it to the fullest and brightest just as God intended for us!  #Peace&Love 

Sidenote: All pictures are borrowed from the internet 🙂

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