Back to School – Transitions for Teens and Young Adults

I’d like to talk about transitions a little bit. Some major life transitions that readily come to mind for most adults might be: starting a new job, entering a new relationship, getting married/engaged, getting pregnant, becoming a parent, or moving to a new city, house, state, etc.

With the first week of school under way and fast approaching a wrap, I’d like to focus on talking a little about educational transitions for teens and young adults. Lots of young adults are starting middle school, high school, college, or grad school. Perhaps, there are a few out there who are going back to school after a break. These events are pretty daunting and they are also big turning points for most young adults in the journey for discovering who you are, where you’re at, where you want to be, and who you want to be in the future.

Parents, teachers, mentors, etc. set expectations for academic performance. Young adults, peers, and school cliques set social expectations. And society sets the bar for norms on what is expected at certain life intervals. It’s not easy to go into day one or week one of something new, but to add in the social and societal stresses and expectations, it can be overwhelming and anxiety provoking. For some people, the concept of change is enough to send you into full blown panic. Anxiety flourishes amidst the unknown.

So, some tips for the strong, smart young people out there:

BREATHE. Everyone gets nervous to start something new and you’re not alone. If you start to panic or feel anxious, leave the room, the group, or whatever you’re doing. Excuse yourself to regroup, take some deep breaths, splash your face with cool water, and come back to it.

Second, make time for yourself in every day. Take a self time out when you get home at the end of the day and let things go that didn’t go the way you wanted. Clear your mind, write in a journal if that’s cathartic for you, and reset for tomorrow.

And finally, don’t let other people decide who you are. Listen to your heart and be true to that inner voice. Those around you who care about you, love you, and really want you to be happy will listen when you speak. Think about what you want to say, then be assertive in getting your thoughts and feelings heard.

This is the first of several posts about transitions. Check out our related posts Quick Tips for Teachers/Parents of Kids Who Don’t Do Transitions and Adults Manage Transitions Differently


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