You have probably heard your teachers and your parents or your guardians or your elders throw this word around so casually that it feels like something foreign, like something you can dissect, like something you can switch on and off, like it is something you are not currently battling, but something close to a joke: The poor little child going through something that is not of any importance, so we shouldn't take their feelings seriously.
But the fact is, that is not true.
Once puberty comes, one does not have power over your feelings, which leads to understandable imperfect decision-making.
One does not have the power over your urges, and there are many of them. One does not have the power to understand what is going on with your own body, your own insides.
What is puberty?
Well, in easily understable terms it is the time period that you and your body go through hormonal changes. It is the time that you go from child to young adult. But one does not immediately go from child to full-blown adult, there is a long and difficult journey that you will have to embark on before you come to a full understanding (if ever) of all that you are and all that you can be.
Pay attention, it will take a lot of hard work to reach your full potential.
Think about it like this:
A baby is born and around their 11th year of existence they are given superpowers.
Just like in superhero movies where the superhero needs to figure out how to control its powers, puberty is you hatching into a superperson and all you have to do is to practice your feelings, practice your urges, practice decision-making until you find what works for you so that when you breathe air as an adult you have the resources to be the best possible version of yourself.
Don't be fooled, many adults you see walking around never practised their superpowers and are still puberty stricken, even as 40-year old adults. You dear reader, will not make that mistake, because in the following paragraphs I will break down some of the things you will need to succeed. Here are 10 things to remember when you are going through puberty:
1) MANAGE YOUR FEELINGS:
Wow, feelings are real. I remember when I was a kid, I couldn't stand my mother or my father. I didn't like chilling with them, I wanted to be independent from them. Whenever my dad would ask me to do normal chores or ask me any question I would scream at the top of my lungs. I knew I was being rude, I knew I was being unnecessary, but I couldn't control my ANGER. I was angry all the time.
I wasn't only ANGRY because of them, I was angry because I had so many feelings and I didn't feel like I could share it with them.
My advice if you struggle with controlling your feeling? Start a journal, write down all your FEELINGS. Look out for patterns, look out for things that trigger certain FEELINGS in you. That is how you will be able to control it once you are a bit stronger in your journey.
2) LOVE WHO YOU WANT:
You are at an age where you do not only feel ANGER, but you are becoming aware of romantic feelings too. This is exciting, I remember falling in love with a classmate when I was 12. Whenever they were in the room I could not breathe and I did not want to be around them for fear of saying something that would make me look like a fool. Do not be afraid to like people. Whether it is a girl, whether it is a boy/ Love who you want and if anyone tells you it is wrong to be gay or lesbian, know that the problem does not lie with you. The problem lies with the hatred they possess in their heart. It is not always that easy, I know. Not all parents are open to their kids loving who they want. I was lucky enough to have parents who supported me no matter what. If you want to speak to someone call Lifeline 021 461 1113 (Cape Town, South Africa)
3) SEX / INTIMACY:
Sex is everywhere. And it is around this age that your friends only talk about sex. I am an adult and having gone through puberty I know that most kids lie about their sexual experiences when they are going through puberty. They lie for many reasons, but mostly to look cool and to sound experienced. One thing I will share with you is that sex is only fun when you know what you are doing and trust me, at your age you do not know what you are doing or even know what you are supposed to be feeling. Relax, there will be a lot of time to have sex. Kissing is just as fun, go slowly, practice kissing, daydream about your crush. Just because your friends are telling you to do something doesn't mean you should rush your feelings.
4) UNDERSTAND CONSENT:
Always make sure that the person you are romantically involved with is okay with what is happening. If you have to talk someone into kissing or having sex with you after they said that they do not want to have sex or that they are not ready, then do not do it. Respect is something many people do not have and they play mind games to get people to do what they want. Never be that person. When someone says: “No” then STOP. If you do this, if you can respect someone when they say: “No” then you respect yourself. There is no shame in asking someone if they are okay with you putting your arm around them. There is no shame in asking someone if they are okay with you kissing them. That is the highest level of respect. Only do things when the person has said: Yes.
Never forget, you or the person you are with can say STOP at any time. And when that happens, no matter how far the situation has gone, the STOP.
5) EAT WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY:
Our bodies carry us until the day we die. Be kind to it. Do not starve yourself, do not blame yourself when you eat too much. Do not feel like you are less of a person just because your body is smaller or bigger than the next person. Your body is yours and never let anyone make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. The journey of loving yourself and the superpower of loving yourself starts here and now. Practise this craft, it is vital. I know this is difficult. I still struggle with this. The media tries to tell me that I am not worthy by bombarding me with images of people that are half my size. But if you can recognise that the media is not real life, you will be happier on your journey.
This sounds easy enough, right? I mean, you've been breathing since birth? WRONG. Sometimes breathing can help you control your FEELINGS (see point 1). When you are unsure about what to do in any given situation, BREATHE. Breathe in and out, count to ten. If this does not help, do it again.
7) ASK QUESTIONS
Speak to someone you trust, ask them what is going on with your emotions. As a child I was very proud and would scoff at any advice older people gave me. Sometimes we are afraid to ask questions because those we believe to have the answers do not want to talk openly and honestly. Contact an organisation or a helpline in your area if nobody in your immediate life wants to level with you.
Crying is a valid way of controlling your feelings. When you feel down, cry. No one can say you are less of a person, just because you cry. Sometimes I cry when I'm alone or while I am writing in my journal. Crying heals. Crying releases any stress.
9) LOVE YOUR PARENTS / GUARDIANS:
They love you and sometimes you may not understand each other. This is normal. But this is why you need to to TALK to them. Try and make them understand what you are going through. If you have abusive parents or guardians contact Childline South Africa: 08000 55 555
10) THINK BEFORE YOU ACT
All of these new feelings can lead to making impulsive decisions.
As humans we have two minds.
'Thinking mind' and the 'observing mind.'
When your thinking mind says: “I am going to beat up that kid for looking at me” Breathe and wait for your Observing mind to say something. Our observing minds are just that: Observers. It observes our thoughts and asks us why we feel the way we do. Many times my observing mind has protected me from doing things I would later have come to regret.