Who am I? Hmmmmm I am a woman. I was born an American, a Michigander to be specific, but I identify as being from all over. I grew up in Mexico so a part of me identifies as Latina. I’m a third culture kid or TCK. I am bilingual. I am an adventurer, a creative, a musician, …. I am a rock collector, an animal lover, a mystery lover.... Most people identify me as a lover of color! I have even had a probation officer describe me to a potential client as “Eccentric”! Who am I? I am Melissa Deaton Cook LPC and Drum Circle Facilitator. I specialize in working with children, teens, and tweens. From Anxiety to Trauma and everthing inbetween I just love working with kids!
“Who am I?” This is a question that all youth ask daily. This is normal.
For me as an adult I know that there are many parts to who I am. There are things about me that are great and things about me that are not so great. There are things that I excel at and things that I need to improve. There are things like Spelling that I will always struggle with no matter how much I work at it. There are things that people like about me. And, I know there are things that some people don’t like about me. Because I am human, some days I feel strong and confident and some days I feel a little less than, or not good enough. As a psychotherapist I know this is normal. It’s a part of life. We all have good days and bad days.
We know as adults that little things do not define us as a whole. As a teenager and young adult this is not always so clear. The struggle is real!
One of the goals of adolescents is to figure out who they are and where they fit in the world.
However sometimes I think we fail to remind tweens and teens that this is a lifelong process. Who we are at 12 will not be who we are at 16 or 21 or 35. There will be parts of that 12-year-old still present. New experiences will help them grow into a different person. Kid’s, and sometimes even parents, can be so hard on themselves and each other to have everything figured out that anxiety, depression, and even self-loathing can set in.
Sometimes teen therapy is needed. It can be a safe place to sort through the confusing muck of figuring out who one is in a super complex world.
Today adolescents struggle to figure out where their “loyalties” should lie. Where they fit within a blended family. How to navigate sexual identity. How to identify with diverse cultures. Questions they may ask are: Is it ok if I’m athletic, if I’m artsy, if I’m mathematical or a good speller? Can I be artsy and like sports at the same time? Do I have to have a political or religious opinion? Is it ok not to even know some of these things, let alone know where to begin to understand them? Even the basic adolescent struggles have become over complicated in this fast-paced digital world where bullying and shaming occurs all the time when “you don’t agree” with or “look like” the “right” person. Who even is the “right” person? None of this is new to those of us who survived adolescence. Yet my concern for today’s youth is that these things have become super charged while our kids have become more isolated and pressured by the world. Navigating these and many more questions can become overwhelming for many.
It is important for adults to be open and listen to questions that their teens are asking. Sometimes these questions are verbal and sometimes they are stated though behaviors.
Everyone struggles with identity at times.
Some youths are able to navigate this with minimal issues while others find themselves imploding or exploding. If you are concerned about how your loved one is managing their identity or anything relating to it (everything is about identity when you are a teen) give me a call and we can talk about if therapy is right for your child or adolescent.