Posted on 16 October 2015 by Rachel

NAVIGATING YOUR WAY…

16 October 2015

You tell people you are ok ... even though that is the last thing you feel. 

It's ok to... be upset, to be happy, to be angry. 
It's ok to... feel excited, stuck, or confused. 
It's ok to... not know where you're heading. 
It's ok to... feel lonely, hurt or cry. 
It's ok to... feel loved and content. 

It's ok to... not always be ok.

What's not ok is when we are hard on ourselves and don't give yourselves time to process what we are thinking or feeling.

Have you ever found yourself feeling awful for a period of time; where you just want to stay in bed all day and not face the world. You feel lost and stcuk; unsure of what to do to pick yourself up again. Yet as you meet others throughout the day, whether that be at school, college or work, you find yourself faking a smile.

You tell people you are ok even though that is the last thing you feel. 

So often we don't acknowledge how we feel, toning it down pretending we are find when we are far from it. Sometimes, we may find ourselves feeling worthless, like we are a waste of space and feeling as though nobody cares about us. And as a result, we may find ourselves engaging in activities that we are led to believe will provide us with fulfilment and worth. However, once we have engaged in them, we find ourselves feeling deeper in despair and trapped in a vicious cycle, feeling worthless, rejected and hurt. 

Maybe for a small moment you find yourself forgetting your worries in some of the different situations you may come across. Yet quickly that changes and you find yourself trapped or feeling vulnerable, neither of which are okay. 

Perhaps you have found yourself in a situation on Friday night where you've attended a party with some friends. Maybe you have found yourself being encouraged to drink and having drunk a bit too much find yourself being chatted up by the random stranger that was smiling at you from across the room earlier that evening. 

As you leave the party having exchanged numbers and sending a few messages back and forth, you're asked to send a picture. You don't feel comfortable doing so and alarm bells are ringing. You question whether or not you should, as this stranger has made you feel so good about yourself in the days which have followed since you met. 

So you decide it won't do any harm and send it, but before you know it you're being asked to send more suggestive images and you decide you don't want to and as you say no, this stranger that once made you feel good sends you messages teling you that you're a waste of space and aload of other explicit messages follow which put you down...

...And so you find yourself feleing used, low, anxious and angry. If you ever find yourself in a situatoin like this, find a trusted adult who you can speak to and let them know what has happened. And let's make a few things clear: 

1. Nobody has the right to ask you to do something you do not feel comfortable doing. 

2. You should never feel pressured into doing something which you do not want to do. 

3. There can be serious consequences to your actions or the actions of others, what may seem like innocent fun could actually be illegal. 

It can be a confusing and difficult time during your adolescent years and beyond. It's a time of trying to work out who you are, what makes you, you and your developing your sense of identity. Your self-worth may feel as though it is like a yo-yo. High one minute, low the next. This time of transition can feel isolating but remember you are not alone and risky behaviour does not and should not be the answer. 

It's important to learn what positive things make you feel good about yourself in the long term. We're not talking just quick fixes but activities which give you enjoyment and can help you grow as a person.

It may be something as simple as having a pamper evening or spending the night on your Xbox. It could be going for a run or hitting the gym for a workout. Maybe spending time with friends who make you laugh and encourage you is an option? Or even creating a memory box of good times you have had. 

Creating a feel good toolbox can be a key element to knowing what to turn to on the days when life feels tough or you need a pick me up. It helps to know what activities help bring your mood up and that are healthy and positive for you to engage in. 

Relationships can be funny things and require effective communication, respect, honesty and acceptance for who you are and your values.

Healthy relationships are much more than just being romantic with someome. It is important to have positive relationships wiht your peers, people who bring out your best side! Who out of your friends and family can support you on those days when you're not feeling your best? Who still loves you and accepts you when you say no as you don't want to do something?

It's also great to have role models who you can look up to, who can influence you to be the best version of yourself can help you to grow and develop. Having trusted adults, who you can chat to and share your worries and concerns with can help you navigate your way through situations and make more sense of them. 

Always rememeber that you are good enough. You don't need to change who you are depending upon the company oyu are in and you don't have to do anything you're not comfortable doing or disagree with. So on those days when you just want to stay in bed, turn to your feel good toolkit, contact your friends and do something which makes you feel good about who you are. 

Remember - be kind to yourself. 

- Gill Briggs has been a Community and Youth Worker for the past ten years. She is passionate about breaking down mental health stigma, raising awareness, an dsupporting young people to find healthy ways to manage their emotions. Using informal education, she helps young people to learn ways to develop and enhance their self-worth in positive ways. 

Tags: consent, self-esteem,

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