What are our teen girls greatest struggles?

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It feels like overnight I have gone from being an awkward teen to being ‘that’ adult that uses the most frustrating sentence ever…..”When I was your age.” Or another gem, “I know what you are going through.”

When I use any of these sentences on my Beautiful Minds teens, I can see the expression on their faces. They literally want to find a sharp object and drive it into my eyes.

Yes, it is fair to say that to some extent we do know what teens are going through but on the other hand, life is so different for them now. We are also all individuals so how one teen may internalize an event in her life, another teen may have a totally different response to the same situation.

As parents, it’s safe to say that we try desperately to relate to our teens by thinking back to similar situations that occurred to us when we were their age. Then, we give our advice based on how we may have felt at that stage or dealt with the situation. This is life, its been happening this way for generations and will continue to happen like this for generations to come.

It’s great when parents share their stories with their teens but I wanted to dig a bit deeper. I went to the source and asked over 7,000 teen girls aged 11 – 17 to write in and let me know what was currently their greatest struggle with being a teen in 2014. The response was overwhelming!

Possibly the most noteworthy realization from this exercise was that teens from all over the world had similar concerns. Teen girls in America had the same concerns as teen girls in the UK. After going through the emails, posts and Face Book comments, we complied the list of the Share Your Struggle Campaign set up by us at Beautiful Minds and these were the major concerns our girls had worldwide.

  • How I look.
  • Being moody because I can’t accept myself as I am.
  • Being told you are beautiful when you can’t see it yourself.
  • Trying to find reassurance when things are tough.
  • Social media makes our lives really challenging.
  • Having unwanted thoughts and worries that control my mind.
  • The pressure to be model perfect.
  • Not having anyone I can talk to.
  • I have anxiety about the world I live in, it’s all war, hate and issues.
  • Being judged for just being a girl.
  • How conscious girls are about the way they look.
  • Learning that it’s okay to like, even love yourself.
  • Learning to be my own best friend.
  • To stop comparing myself to others.
  • My inability to really open up to my parents.
  • Finding some self-worth.
  • Because I hate myself, I put others down and I am trying to stop doing this.
  • That we too suffer from anxiety.
  • Understanding boys and why they do certain things.
  • Friendships at this age can cause great pain.
  • Peer pressure.
  • That we are NOT too young to understand the struggles we face in the future.
  • Words really impact us deeply.
  • The constant fighting with my parents upsets me.
  • That YOUR dreams for my future are not MY dreams for my future.
  • Our generation is based on people with a very low self-esteem.
  • That we are girls and we obsess over small things.
  • That’s its hard being a teenager, its confusing and tough.
  • Getting our parents to really listen to us instead of talking at us.
  • I can’t live up to their expectations.
  • I do stress about what I look like and if boys will like me.
  • Just being different and knowing you are different. It’s painful.

As 2014 draws to a close, my greatest wish for young girls worldwide is for them to feel supported. I want them to feel that they have a voice and will be heard. Our youth today have huge anxiety about the world in which they live in and it’s our job as adults to take the time to really listen to what our young people are afraid of and then find ways that we can educate them and support them to make great choices and establish healthy coping skills.