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Growing pains

Growing up I always felt like something was missing. If it wasn’t a close-knit, happy family, creating joyful memories together it was me desiring to have my own space and doing things at my own time. If it wasn’t asking for my parents to buy me a cool fashion item so I can fit in with the crowds (of course acting out when they couldn’t), it was me wishing to be accepted just by being because I knew how stretched my family’s finances were.


I don’t recall, especially as a teen, understanding a lot that was happening around me. A lot felt contradictory and I spent most my days and years conflicted and confused. Like how I felt vs how my family or society expected me to feel. Because of this, it always seemed like how I genuinely felt was not important. Or what I dreamt of wasn't attainable. Like many of my peers, at times I put up a brave face even when I was scared or confused.

Putting a full display of my true emotions on a pedestal wasn’t an option because you would get called names such as weak, cry baby, tell tale and the likes. Emotions were labeled as either bad or good. Behaviour, resulting from how I felt was labeled and categorised as either good or bad too. So like most, I wanted to be a good girl. What seemed prevalent was the etching encouragement from adults and peers to “toughen up” when expressing my hurts. Applause came when I “sucked it all in” by not expressing how I felt, for instance when a friend at the playground hurt me. An applause came too when I fell and stood up without crying literal tears. At the clarion of “big girl”, from the proud grinned faces of those who expressed it, my heart bled at the pain I was feeling. Despite the urge to scream the pain out, I kept it all in to keep their gloat on.


I don’t wonder, but now know how differently my teen life would’ve been empowered by knowing that all of these things were simply debilitating. Joey Dlamini’s book, The Teen Top 25: Foundational Life Lessons for a Thriving Journey to Adulthood is packed with gems I so much relate to. Gems I wish I read of or knew about when I was younger.

Until someone shares their story, you never really know that you are not alone in your feelings and journey of life.

Navigating teen life, let alone life in general should not be an isolating experience. Now that I’m older, I’m always reminded of the song “no man is an island” when I feel alone and challenged by life.