The Raphael Remedy

I Was a Pathetic Teenager

by | Feb 18, 2020 | Counseling

I have many fond memories of my teen years.  But as much as I don’t enjoy getting older, I wouldn’t want to go back to those years for anything.  Or, let me rephrase that…I wouldn’t want to go back to who  I was in those years.  In plain English, I was pathetic…as were most of my friends.

But pathetic wasn’t my natural state. I wasn’t born that way – I became that way.  And it’s the disc jockeys and the soap opera writers and other media influences that I blame for it.

I still enjoy listening to oldies from the 70s and 80s, my coming of age years. They’re nostalgic and comforting – like an old t-shirt. But when I listen to the words of some of those songs (I’m one of those people who actually listens to each word), I realize why  my life and relationships were so chaotic during those years. Drama was presented as the norm (and still is). Crazy relationships, pining for the one that dumped us, fantasizing about romantic reunions with such aforementioned slugs seemed normal…and even romantic.

I think about some of the other media influences of my teen years, such as movies, magazines, and TV shows. I remember my dad warning my sister and I about not watching soap operas. But, of course, he seemed so  ridiculous. I mean, seriously. Didn’t he realize how smart his teenage daughter was?!  I thought for myself, after all. I wasn’t going to be influenced by what I watched on TV during such impressionable years.

But with the wisdom of years, I now see his point…maybe even more clearly than he did. He knew what the advertisers know…what we see and hear does influence us, a lot.  If not, why would companies spend millions for a 30-second slot during the Super Bowl?

I find it hard to listen to sad and whiny music now. For the most part, I listen to Christian music which draws my heart and mind upward to hope and joy. Once you get away from the garbage, you really do become more sensitized to it…like after cutting out salt for a few weeks and then eating a pretzel.

Knowing that wisdom tends to come with age from experience, I’m not baffled by how much today’s teenagers buy into the media spun garbage – especially when I had so readily bought into it myself at their age. But it is far worse now then when I was a teen.  More than ever before, teens today are saturated with a constant stream of media and societal pressures related to self-image that gravely damages their self-worth. Their mental perception of what they think about themselves becomes so distorted, leading them to engage in risk behaviors when they feel they don’t measure up. Media’s effect on poor self-image issues has led to an alarmingly high increase of adolescents into , drug and alcohol use, , bullying, suicidal ideation, and sexual risk behaviors.

What is  puzzling to me are the adult women in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and even 60’s who still buy into the garbage!  Ladies, turn it off already!

Here’s some advice to my adult lady friends and to any teenagers willing to listen:

  •  If it doesn’t speak of hope and make you happy – turn it off.
  •  If it makes you feel bad about yourself – turn it off.
  •  If it makes you feel like a victim – turn it off.
  •  If it makes you feel fat or ugly – turn it off.
  •  If it makes you angry – turn it off.
  •  If it makes you feel more lonely – turn it off.
  •  The people in your life who are worth it make you feel worthwhile.
  •  The people in your life who are worth it make you feel beautiful.
  •  The people in your life who are worth it make you laugh.
  •  The people in your life who are worth it tell you the truth.
  •  Let go of the ones who leave you. They are nearly never worth the tears.

God loves you and has a plan for your life. It’s better than anything you can come up with. Follow His lead. Enjoy your friends. Find a hobby. Live for something bigger than yourself. Get involved in a worthy cause. Make the world around you a better place. Live each day with anticipation of God’s surprises. Don’t waste your energy on drama. Don’t settle for the garbage the world offers. Enjoy now and let God’s plan unfold.

Allison Ricciardi, LMHC
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