Whether you are a new to middle school or high school, a young adult trying to find your way or a parent, teacher, or leader of youth from 11-24- there is a good chance that you, or someone you know, is impacted by the rise of emotional and physical distress brought on by feelings and beliefs of shame, vulnerability, and self-doubt.
My research on Adolescent Distress was initially triggered by a need to understand what was happening in my own home. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the things I was watching erode my children’s well-being were not isolated to my (and their) experience. The more I shared my thoughts and feelings- my need for hope and compassion- the more stories I heard of desperation, confusion, and chaos filling homes and hearts in communities around the world.
Consistently, throughout my research and my experience as a personal coach, the common themes of perfectionism and adolescent distress talk about depression, decreasing satisfaction with life (happiness), anxiety, increased expectations, distress, shame, isolation, loneliness, risky behaviors, body image disorders, suicide ideation, self-harming behaviors, and hopelessness. Kids talk about being harassed and bullied in person and online; they talk about their inability to cope with daily hassles and their confusion over who they are, who they should be, and who they really WANT to be. And they talk about living up to high standards and the increasing pressure to ‘appear perfect’ at school, at home, and in their social media presence!
These are big words, packed with implications and complications, when read in a paper published by psychologists, family scientists, and pediatricians-
But these are HUGE words, packed with implications and complications, when faced in the hearts and homes of our families and our neighborhoods-
My daughter sent me this message a few months ago-
This is a perfect way to explain my “WHY” behind Bridging Gaps ~ Building HOPE-
At any given time, we will all have within our reach, at least one person who has a gap between where they are and where they can be! Sometimes the gap is really small and all it takes is one kind word and a smile-
… And sometimes, the gap is ginormous- insurmountable without a little help from bridge builders- friends, family, and teachers who can consistently show up with hope, compassion, and light until the journey from here to there is complete!
My hope, in some tiny little way, is to be a bridge builder-