Monthly Archives: August 2016

Moving to a New Place

After living in Europe for seven years, my parents announced that my family and I would be moving to the United States. We all looked forward to this with great anticipation. What would people think of us? Who would be our new friends? I personally hoped to be the hero of the third grade class.

I was not disappointed. The third graders all thought highly of my experience, and I quickly became well known as “the French guy.” I enjoyed my popularity for a time.

However, I was not interested in many things my fellow classmates did, and it was hard for me to connect with them. I listened to classical music passionately, never watched TV, and rarely watched movies.

I did not have a common background with my friends because I grew up in Europe. I had few friends, and fewer good friends. In hindsight, I realize I was a bit of a jerk to many around me. I kept bragging about my quirks and thinking myself superior to those around me because I lived in Europe and they didn’t.

I had decided I wanted better friends when my parents announced that we were going to move again! I saw this as the perfect opportunity to get better friends, where people did not know of my unkind, perhaps pretentious past.

When we moved to California, I did not flaunt myself, like I had done for five years. I did not tell everyone that I lived in Europe, and expected no reaction when I did tell my friends.

I still listened to classical music, but I did not brag about not being main stream. I simply kept my music to myself. Nor did I try to become mainstream. Sure enough, I found that people enjoy the company of someone who is not typical but does not brag about it.

There’s no substitute for good friends, and if I had to subdue my temper and pride, it was well worth the investment.

A Story of New Friendships

Change happens to everyone. Whether it is good or bad, we have to adjust, and what matters most is how we adjust to that change.

Fighting the change or pretending it did not happen usually creates more drama and conflict, but sometimes we just cannot help ourselves. Adjusting to change and finding a “new normal” is more productive and just feels better.

A Stressful Choice

Making friends is difficult. Making the right friends is even more difficult. I like to think that I can relax once I finally get to know a person well enough to consider them a friend, but I’ve learned getting to know a person is the easy part. Judging whether a friend is the right match for you is no simple task, especially if you want that friend to like you.

A while ago, one of my best friends and I befriended a group of girls who at first I liked and admired. It wasn’t until later on that I found out how utterly different I was from them.

These girls weren’t as sweet as I thought, and over and over I watched them make bad decisions. It didn’t take long to realize that this wasn’t the group for me.

Separating from these girls wouldn’t have been terribly hard except for one thing: my best friend had turned into one of them. This led me to a really stressful choice. Do I stay with the group out of loyalty to my friend, or do I leave the group and abandon a year and a half’s friendship?

After repeating this question over and over in my head, I finally came to a conclusion. I would leave the group and my friend. I realized that while the year-and-a-half of being best friends with her had been special, time had passed and we were no longer a good match. I would also be more careful in deciding who were the best people for me to be with.

Currently I have a different group of friends who mean the world to me. Looking back on this drama, I know in my heart that while the decision I made hurt, I did the right thing.

Life Balance

Lately, many articles written for adults are focused on the importance of a work/life balance. Although teens may not be holding down full-time jobs, they are still under a lot of pressure from their daily responsibilities, and can benefit from finding a healthy balance. School, extracurricular activities, sports, part-time jobs, and responsibilities at home can cause a teen’s life to feel like a juggling act.

If you feel stressed or overwhelmed, it is important to speak with the adults in your life. They may not realize how much pressure you are feeling if you manage to “get everything done.” Talk to a parent, teacher, or counselor and ask for help in dealing with stress using the suggestions below.

Set Priorities

Decide what is most important and what needs to be done first. You do not need to do everything in one night. Prioritize what needs to be done early in the week, and what can be done later. If you are focusing on a few projects a night rather than worrying about all of them every night you will do a better job on each assignment.

Do Not Be an Over-Achiever

Being well-rounded is important. However, you do not need to be the captain of the football team, the lead in the school play, and employee of the month. Choose one or two activities that you can enjoy while also getting your school work done and having time to relax or visit with friends.

Set Realistic Goals

Set goals that you can see yourself achieving within a week, two weeks or maybe a month. Setting goals that are too high can make you feel more stressed if you cannot realistically achieve them.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

It is normal to feel overwhelmed when things get busy, assignments are due, and the coach scheduled extra practice. If you are feeling especially stressed or depressed, you may want to look at everything you are involved in and see if there are one or two things you can cut out until you feel better.

Be honest with yourself. If there’s an activity that no longer brings you joy, think about whether you really want to continue pursuing it. It’s hard to let go of something you’ve invested years in, but if it’s become a chore with little return for you, it may be time to drop it.

Take Care of Yourself

Eat a balanced and healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Do not sacrifice your health because you feel you are too busy to take care of yourself. A combination of a healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep helps relieve stress.

Schedule Time for You

Set aside a half an hour a day to do something that just makes you feel good. Read a book or a favorite magazine, take a walk, or ride your bike. This time that you take for yourself will help you focus when you sit down to finish your homework or practice lines for the school play. Try new ways to deal with stress such as Yoga, Tai Chi, and meditation.