Table of Contents: Teen Girls

Excerpt from Chapter 1: Who Am I? And Why Do I Feel This Way?

WHY DO I HAVE MOOD SWINGS WHERE ONE MINUTE I'M HAPPY AND THE NEXT DOWN?
Victoria, age 17

You are not alone in having quick mood swings. Mood swings are normal during adolescence. A study from the University of Chicago found that the moods of some high school students fluctuate every 15 minutes. This is usually caused by the hormonal changes in your body. Also, most teens experience enormous social and academic pressures in high school. Just the thought of those pressures could put you in a bad mood. Your friends probably have gone through, or are going through the same emotional roller coaster you are. Talking to friends who understand your emotional roller coaster can help a lot. When you are feeling down, remember that it probably won't last too long.

Excerpt from Chapter 4: Guys, Love, and Sex—How Do I Decide What to Do?

SHOULD ADOLESCENT GIRLS HAVE LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS, OR IS IT HEALTHIER TO SEE MORE GUYS IN THIS PERIOD OF TIME?
Rena, age 16

You've asked a great and tough question. And the answer depends on your definitions of "long-term" and "healthier." On the other hand, there is nothing wrong or "unhealthy" about having the same boyfriend for a while. In fact, unless you have enough time with the same boyfriend, you may not have the chance to really get to know him and to learn what you do and don't want in a boyfriend.

Excerpt from Chapter 5: School, School, School—Why Is There Always a Problem?

WHY IS SCHOOL SO HARD?
Thelma, age 13

For many teens, it seems that all at once the content and requirements of courses in school become complicated and overwhelming. At the same time, much more responsibility for learning is put on the student. All this is a way of preparing you for life. During the teen years, your brain is maturing in ways that allow you to handle more abstract and complex academic material. Schoolwork that you could do without much effort in the past, because you easily understood it the first time in class, may now require a lot more time. You may have to listen harder, read more, study more, and have a chance to discuss the material before you're able to really "get" it. This can be both frustrating and overwhelming. But it is also very gratifying when you finally do get it.

Excerpt from Chapter 6: How Do I Find the Time to Do It All?

WHY DO I FEEL AS IF THERE'S NOT ENOUGH TIME DURING THE DAY?
Tara, age 17

In the last few years, your life has most likely become increasingly full as you've added on activities, responsibilities, and interests. All of these take up your time and energy, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. For a couple of days, try keeping track of how you're spending each half-hour of your day. Make an objective assessment of how productively you used the time. For instance, if you "studied between 7 and 8 p.m.," assess whether that was productive, concentrated study time or whether you were doing other things (taking phone calls, daydreaming). If the latter is the case, you may be better off allotting several 15-minute periods for concentrated studying. The same would hold true for free time. Are you really enjoying your free time, or are you just filling it up with stuff that is really not that enjoyable to you? Observing yourself and objectively looking at your use of time will allow you to be more aware of how you might be using time inefficiently and to make changes that will allow you to accomplish more in a shorter period of time. It is also helpful to spend a few minutes thinking about your schedule at the start of each day. Then you will know what needs to be done and when you might have free time. At the end of the day, check in with yourself and review what worked and what didn't.

Excerpt from Chapter 7: Are All Families This Difficult to Live With?

MY PARENTS PUT A LOT OF PRESSURE ON ME. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Claudette, age 16

If your parents are putting a lot of pressure on you, you probably feel angry, anxious, worried, or sad. Start by letting your parents know how you are feeling. Tell them you need to talk with them and agree on a good time to do this. Pick a time when things aren't too busy or hectic. Let them know you are feeling pressured, and give them examples of what they are doing and how it makes you feel. For example, you might say, "When you tell me that I need to stay home and do extra work because it is the only way I'll stay out of trouble and get into college, it makes me feel stressed and upset. I know it's important that I do well in school and stay safe, but I also need to have a life and to have more time with my friends." Let your parents know that you understand they just want what is best for you, and suggest better ways they can support you, like, "How about if I can have Friday nights and Saturday afternoons with my friends, then on Sundays I'll stay home and get all my chores and homework done."

Sometimes it is also helpful to talk with others you trust, like friends, teachers, school counselors, someone from church, or another adult in your extended family (like a grandparent, aunt, or uncle). Believe it or not, just talking about the pressures can help relieve them!

Excerpt from Chapter 8: Eating Disorders, Anxiety, Depression: How Can I Tell If I'm Really in Trouble?

HOW CAN I DEAL WITH DEPRESSION AND DEPRESSED FRIENDS?
Linda, age 13

If you are feeling depressed, the first thing to do is to find someone who will listen without trying to tell you that you should not feel so sad or that you have nothing to worry about. Your concerns are serious and real. If a friend wants to talk to you about being depressed, the same is true. The role of listener is very important—just listening without trying to fix the situation is helpful. But it is also important to remember that depression can be very serious. It can be much deeper than the sadness everyone feels now and again. This kind of depression may need the help of a professional. If you fear for the safety of someone who has confided in you, talk to an adult you trust right away, and get help as quickly as possible.

Excerpt from Chapter 9: Drugs and Alcohol: How Can I Not Be Tempted?

WHY DO SOME PEOPLE THINK THE ONLY WAY TO HAVE FUN IS WITH DRUGS AND ALCOHOL?
Roseanne, age 15

People who turn to drugs and alcohol for "fun" probably don't think that it's the only way, just the easiest way. They may also be misinformed, particularly about addiction. People who have never been addicted don't know what it means to have drugs or alcohol control their lives. So, they really don't know what they're getting themselves into. They just can't imagine what it is like.

Lots of people (including adults) think that they're an exception, and nothing is going to happen to them. And they come up with excuses for why this is "true." Even though they know how bad addictions can be, they fool themselves into thinking "I'm different. I won't get hooked!" But the truth is you really can't know ahead of time if, or how badly, you are going to get hooked. And if you do get hooked, it is very, very difficult to stop. So, experimenting with drugs or alcohol is always a big gamble.

Excerpt from Chapter 10: What Will My Future Be Like?

AM I NORMAL IN MY FEELINGS OF UNCERTAINTY AND FEAR ABOUT THE FUTURE?
Iris, age 18

You are very normal. In fact, most kids your age don't know what they want to do in the future and this can be rather frightening. You may have a friend who's got her future all plotted out and wonder what's wrong with you. Well cool for her, but she's not the norm; most kids don't know exactly what they want to do, even by the end of high school. But, this is a good time to start focusing on some ideas. You might start a journal. Give it a fun title and write about the things you think about for your future—include your fears, your wishes, and your dreams. If you read about something that you might like to try, clip it out and put it in your "future" journal. Or, if you see something on TV or in the movies that you like, add it. For now, don't limit yourself. Put your dreams right beside your fears. Both are equally important in helping you to sort out your future.

Excerpt from Chapter 11: Why Is It So Hard to "Fit In"?

WHY DO WE JUDGE PEOPLE BASED ON THEIR LOOKS?
Emma, age 15

Looks are the first thing we have to react to when we meet someone. As human beings, looks are one of the things we use to decide whether another person is "safe" or "dangerous." The problem is that while looks can tell us a little about a person, many people use someone's appearance alone to decide whether or not that person is "likable" or worthy of being their friend. From your question, it is clear that you are already aware that looks are a superficial and ineffective way to judge anyone. And, people who judge others solely on their appearance are often afraid to get to know a person who looks different from themselves, their family, or their friends. Sometimes, it takes real courage to work toward getting to know people who look different and who we are not comfortable with at first sight. But, if you let looks be the deciding factor, you'll lose out because you will never find out who that person really is. So while looks can give you some clues, they don't give you the answer.

Excerpt from Chapter 12: My Parents Just Don't Listen. How Can I Talk to Them?

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS PARENTS AND THEIR ADOLESCENTS CAN COMPROMISE?
Allie, age 18

The "key to compromise" is to give up thinking that you have to be right. If you have to be right, there is a strong chance that you will have a power struggle with your parents, with no chance for compromise. The goal of any compromise is to find a course of action or a solution that works best for everyone involved, not to expose who's right and who's wrong. People are more willing to negotiate if they feel that their side has been heard before making the final decision. Therefore, it is important to take the time to really listen to your parents without interrupting them. Then, ask them to do the same for you. If you've listened carefully, you will be able to take the first important step in working out a compromise, which is to determine how far apart you really are on the issue. Don't assume from the start that there will be a huge disagreement just because they are your parents. Also, keep in mind that a compromise doesn't have to be permanent. You can suggest to your parents that you try something for a week or two and see how it goes. Set up a specific time to discuss how the compromise is working out. Then you can decide if it should be made permanent or if further changes are needed.