Read an Excerpt
This is a book to help you explore your identity, to look into all the different and complex parts of you that make up who you are. Through this book, you will have the opportunity to decide what parts of your child self you want to take with you into adulthood and what parts you wish to revisit or release. Growing up is hard. Teenage years are transition years, when you are moving from childhood into adulthood, when you are constantly changing, constantly transforming. Walk into a teenager's bedroom and you might find anything from teddy bears to condoms. These years contain all of it.
Growing up includes a lot of changes and anticipation. When you're a kid you can't wait to be twelve, then when you're twelve, fourteen seems old, then sixteen, then eighteen, then you can't wait for the exciting and terrifying prospect of college. Each stage is a giving up of something and putting it into our bank of memories, our personal history of who we are so far and an adding on of something new. Each year can be like a decade in terms of how much you are changing. Your emotions can be all over the place; you might feel like your identity is moving in lots of different directions. Some days your sense of who you are is totally secure, and other days you can feel completely clueless. Use this book as your own private place to explore who you are. Share it with trusted friends if you want to. Form an informal journaling group and talk about your experiences if you like. Keep it next to your bed, in your backpack for whenever you need it or simply for your eyes alone.
The exercises in this book are ways to get your feelings out or to look at something in a new way. There is no doing them right or wrongùjust do them in any way that works and is helpful and enjoyable for you. There are additional blank "process pages" at the end of the book. You can use these if you need more space for some of the exercises or if you want to do additional writing on your own.
Journaling is like a personal free-write. Just put your pen on the paper and let your heart pour out. Don't worry about how it looks or sounds. THIS IS FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, unless you wish to share it with people you trust. Journaling lets you pour your feelings and thoughts onto the paper so you can get a better, clearer look at them, so you can let them unravel by themselves, so you can get them off your chest. Think of the page as a friend and let yourself talk.
The most important relationship we will ever have is with ourselves. If we are on "good terms" with ourselves, if we treat ourselves well, talk to ourselves with kindness and respect in our own heads, we can lead comfortable and happy lives. We can stand by ourselves when we need strength, motivate ourselves when we need a push and love ourselves when we need a friend. When we're on "bad terms" with ourselves, we cut ourselves down from the inside and ignore our needs and inner voices.
Learning to be friends to ourselves is daily work. We need to watch our thoughts; are we being kind inside or mean to ourselves? We need to watch our actions; are we doing self-destructive things or acting in a way that is for our own good? We need to watch our feelings; are we paying attention to what we feel, listening to our inner voice and guiding it gently toward reason, or do we alternate between letting our feelings run us in any direction and pretending they're not there?
The journey of self is the most exciting journey in the world. When we get to know ourselves, to accept our own insides and work with them instead of run from them, we can become strong and healthy people. In order to do this we need to be patient, committed and responsible to and for ourselves. We need to care about ourselves the way we want others to care about us. We need to give ourselves a chance to succeed and get the help we need along the way. We need to have faith that life will work out.
This positive way of looking at things helps to give us choices. We can choose the type of life we want to live and the kind of people we want to be with and slowly take steps toward both. It starts today. It starts now. You are building the foundation upon which your self will grow.
Good luck, and enjoy the journey because the journey is the goal.
(c)2000. All rights reserved. Reprinted from It's My Life by Tian Dayton. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.