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You must walk. It is a long journey, through a country that is sometimes pleasant and sometimes dark and terrible. -L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz
You've probably seen the movie The Wizard of Oz a number of times. Maybe you've even read the books about Dorothy and her adventures in the strange Land of Oz. But you've probably never thought about the similarities between the Land of Oz and junior high. Think about the scene where Dorothy lands in Munchkinland, walks out her door, and finds herself in a world of color. She discovers new, exciting things like munchkins and talking scarecrows and yellow brick roads. And she finds scary things like witches with green faces, flying monkeys, and a terrifying wizard. It's a world that's completely different from the one she knew back in Kansas.
Your early teenage years were probably a lot like Dorothy's experience in Oz. But this time the munchkins were the boys you couldn't quite figure out and the flying monkeys were the mean girls who came out of nowhere to rip into your self-esteem. It probably doesn't take much effort for you to remember how those years felt-confusing, scary, uncertain.
But now that you're a bit older things are different. You've kind of settled in to your Technicolor life. You have matured enough to know that mean girls can't destroy you with their insults and boys are less mysterious than you thought.
A few years ago a Broadway musical opened that told a slightly different version of the familiar tale of Oz. Wicked is the story behind the story. It's about the reasons why Glinda, the good witch, became "good" and Elphaba, the bad witch, became "bad." We first meet Glinda (known as Galinda in the first act of the play) and Elphaba when they are about to begin the Oz equivalent of college. Over the course of the play both of them go through all kinds of changes, the kind most girls experience in their teenage years. Elphaba starts out insecure. She tries to hide behind ugly dresses and weird glasses. She struggles to make friends and would rather be with animals than people. Glinda is insecure, too. But she covers her insecurity by acting like it's not there. Glinda's main goals in life are to be popular, attract the perfect boy, and intimidate other girls. Sound like anyone you knew in junior high?
By the end of the musical, though, both girls are different (but we won't give it away). They want more than popularity and attention, they want purpose. They want to connect with the people they love and know that they can make a difference in their world. They are true to themselves, even at significant cost. They have grown up.
Your journey is similar. When you were a child, you had a natural confidence in who you were. As you got older you lost it. Without it you didn't know what else to do but hide behind any number of cover-ups-being mean to your siblings, talking back to your parents, hanging out with kids who you knew might get you into trouble. But now you're on the road to finding your confidence again.
That part of the journey might be over, but we don't want you to forget it. As we talk about what the second half of your teenage years will look like, we want you to remember how much you've already lived through. You have faced dark and terrible things-with friends, with your family, or inside of yourself. And you've had pleasant times-more than pleasant. You have had joy and hope and goodness in your life, even if you haven't always been able to recognize it. All of those parts of your story so far have combined to make you who you are and who you are becoming.
If you've had a psychology class in school, you've probably studied human development. If you haven't had a class like that, then maybe it sounds boring and clinical. But it's not. It's fascinating, mostly because it's like getting an inside peek at why people are the way they are. Human development explains why you wanted to hold and sing to your dolls while your brother wanted to blow them up. It explains why you used to think nothing of putting on a tutu and twirling around in front of your parents and their friends, but can't imagine doing anything like that now. It explains why other people have so much power over how you feel about yourself.
The truly amazing thing about development is that it never stops. You are constantly changing and growing in ways you can't predict. What was once a strength might be more of a struggle now and vice versa. Who you were three years ago is not necessarily who you are today. And who you are right now is not necessarily who you will be in three years. But along the way, God has been doing very specific things inside of you to help you become the woman you will be one day. No book could ever cover all these fascinating changes, so we'll just hit the high points-and some low points, too. But in the midst of all of these points, we want to remind you that development is all about-well-developing. It's about growing, and growing takes place in different ways and at different speeds for everyone.
Have you noticed that you've always had a few friends who looked (and maybe acted) several years younger or several years older than you? You might have started your period way earlier than your friends-or much later. There is no right or wrong speed for development. And there's definitely no hurry. It takes time to change from a child to an adult, and that's exactly what's happening to you right now.
So don't worry if you're the last of your friends to date or wear makeup, or even if you're the last of your friends to care about any of that. God made you to be uniquely you. That means you will develop in your own way and at your own speed. If it's taking you longer to develop, you will catch up. If you're developing quickly, you will just be a little ahead of your friends from time to time. Eventually every girl will go through the changes that come with being a teenager. You can't change the pace at which you're growing up, but you can enjoy the high points and learn how to hang in there during the low points. God is using them both to form you into the person you were created to be.
Getting there isn't always easy and every girl can use a little help along the way. We both love to snow ski. It's awesome-and sometimes totally confusing. A mountain is a very easy place to get lost. Thankfully, the people who develop ski areas know how quickly skiers can lose their way. So they have a great way of helping us out. As soon as you get off a ski lift at the top of a run there's a huge map of the entire mountain. The map itself is good, but the most helpful part is a little red dot with the words "You are here" written above it. Because if you don't know where you are, you have no idea where to go next. You end up stuck on the mountain.
The same is true for the journey to adulthood. The next few chapters on development will be your "You are here" sign. They will help you understand all that God has done inside of you so far. The better you understand how you got to this point, the better equipped you'll be for what's coming. After all, this is a journey of discovery, of knowing who you've been, who you are, and who you want to become.
Excerpted from Growing Up Without Getting Lost by Melissa Trevathan Sissy Goff
Copyright © 2008 by Melissa Trevathan and Sissy Goff. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted August 25, 2008
I greatly enjoyed this book! im 17 and it helped me out alot with dating and friendships. It also inspired me to get to know who i am and further my relationship with Christ. I highly recommend it to all girls wanting to know who they are.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 2, 2008
I am a 18 year old girl who goes to Daystar Counseling Minstries. This book has inspired me in so many ways. I feel that through this book I have grown closer to God and learned more about myself. I feel that this book has a made a difference for me and I look at life a differnt way. I know when i am struggling with family problems, friends, or even just advice i will refer to this book. I just want to thank Sissy and Melissa for all they have done for meWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.