“Don’t be afraid, mommy. Don’t be scared. I’ll help you. You’ll be fine.”
“I’m scared,” I said quietly to my 18-year-old daughter. She turned and looked at me and said, “Don’t be afraid, mommy. Don’t be scared. I’ll help you. You’ll be fine.” Those words coming from an 18-year-old to me were so comforting. So what was the source of my fear and anxiety?
What caused me to cower in my seat and refuse to check anymore e-mails? Fear of the unknown.
I have been a pediatrician, since 1995, a true lifelong apprenticeship, orderly and organized. I have given countless hours of advice to parents about self-esteem, confidence and how to build them in your teenager. Now I sit here, a newly minted entrepreneur, scared to the core myself. This was an exciting day for me. The launch of a new career, one that I’d prayed for and looked forward to so much. Suddenly, out of the blue, fear overwhelmed me. Not because I’m not qualified, not for fear of not being accepted, simply fear of the unknown, the “what if” of life.
I needed encouragement fast, so I did what anyone else would do, I googled it. I found the ever so famous phrase: “Feel The Fear, And Do It Anyway,” a book written by Susan Jeffers. After reading the impact the book had on the life of women like actress Julie Walters, and Tamara Mellon the co-founder of Jimmy Choo, I decided then and there to order the book. I couldn’t believe I had never read it.
So what unknown challenge do you fear? Are you a teacher getting ready to teach your first class? Are you like me starting on a new career path? Are you facing the challenges of parenting a teenager for the first time or are you dropping your child off to college?
Do you realize that your teens experience the same emotions? How do we advise our teens when they are afraid to step out of their comfort zones?
My daughter whilst getting ready to go to college, out of state for the first time was scared of being so far away from home. I had always encouraged her, but it was good for her to see my vulnerable side, and to realize that throughout life there will be moments when we are all afraid. Courage is when you act in spite of the fear.
Encourage your teens to step outside of their comfort zones so they can achieve their highest potential. A healthy fear at the beginning of a new adventure in life is to be expected. It is a sign of growth, of stretching to the highest level possible.
Don’t brush away the fear, acknowledge it. Sometimes it’s good to actually visualize what could go wrong, what you are actually afraid of. I find that doing so diffuses a lot of the anxiety. The beauty of it all is this, what we are afraid of hardly ever happens. The worst we imagine never happens!
So what if we do fail? I’ve always told my children, “Failure only happens when you give up and tell yourself it’s over.” As long as you have life and breath, you can always find a new way to get around a problem. By all means, cry, beat yourself up about it for one day if you must, but then get up, dust yourself off, and try again. Albert Einstein learned 10,000 ways of how not to make the light bulb but eventually got the right formula. Thank God for persistence. Persistence wins every time.
4. Be real:
Be honest with your teen about times when events didn’t work out for you exactly as planned, but through persistence you eventually succeeded. Coby Bryant was interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel, and he talked about how upset and emotional his eight-year-old daughter got after her team lost their softball game. After trying to comfort her, he showed her a video of when his basketball team was beaten badly. He then showed her how well the team did the next day. She realized it was okay to lose sometimes. And as he proudly said, her team won the next game. Let your teens see you as human too, and that even as an adult, you still feel fear, but act in spite of it anyway.
Prepare as much as you need to for any event, then get on with it. Really, take that first step. It’s amazing how once that first step is taken, all the steps that are necessary eventually become clear.
Prepare as much as you can, and trust God for the rest. Those who act in spite of their fear are those who ultimately become successful. And so I’m scared but I’m going to do it anyway.
Whether you are a teen going off to college, or a parent starting a new career, changes in life are often accompanied by some fear of the unknown. These five steps: encouragement, persistence, acknowledgement, vulnerability and preparation will help you to assist your teeens and cheer them on to achieve great things.