In the last post, I told you that I was writing a book to help teens and that I would be sharing it with you as it was coming along.
This book started out as an Identity Workshop for teens who were residing in a shelter. These young people had lots of stuff happening in their lives and they were so excited to have something that helped them look at themselves and begin to figure things out for themselves. I then presented the workshop to high school classes. Everyone seemed to want more. That’s when I decided that it needed to grow into something more helpful for teens.
Before I get into the book’s material, I would like to share with you what happened during one of the first Identity Workshops. I had this two-sided handout. On the first side was a definition of Identity. Identity is who you are. How you present yourself to the world, how the world sees you. “An easy way to think of identity is to describe yourself,” I told the students in this high school. Let’s start with the things that you cannot change about yourself, your sex, your race, your height, your eye color…
Right away, a student said that you could change your eye color. All you had to do was wear colored contact lenses. So, I asked if that really changes the color of your eye or does it just seem that way. They agreed that the colored lens only changed the way the eye looked but didn’t really change the eye color.
Well, then another student said that you could change your sex. Ah, well, students know that some persons have changed their sex with the help of surgery. This one is tough and complicated. We started arguing about whether surgery really changed your sex but I soon saw that this was getting much too complicated for this talk.
So, we moved on. On the other side of the sheet was the Identity Scale. This was about describing yourself in terms of your personality. There were many traits on the scale. Some were like Happy/Sad, Friendly/Shy, Angry/Peaceful. There were many more traits. Students were asked to decide where they felt they were on the scale before they became teenagers, where they were now, and where they wanted to be in the future.
They seemed very excited about this. It was starting to help the students take a look at their life, helped them become more aware of themselves: how others saw them, how they saw themselves, how they felt about their lives, and more aware of how they wanted to be, for their own sake.
In this book, l am going to help you become more aware of yourself and your choices so that you can choose the life you want for yourself. Together, we’re going to look at how teens understand themselves and how they can prepare for the life they want.
I want to remind you again that I would like feedback from you. However, this blog is not a place to talk about your personal problems. It is not private–everyone can read it–and I would not be able to respond to your writing me. If you need help, please go to your family, school counselors, people in your place of worship. Finally, if it is urgent, you can call the police, seek help at online Teen crisis centers, or the Teen Hotline in your community.
Next blog will be about what you have accomplished in the first ten years: you won’t be able to believe all that you’ve already done!