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An Open Letter to My Teenage Self

An Open Letter to My Teenage Self

Dear Teenage Self,

Oh, how I wish you could see what I see now. I’m older, and life has made me wiser. Nothing is the way I thought it would be. It’s so much better.

When I look back, I see you as one person but I know there were two of you: one that the world saw and the private one that only you knew. I remember the nights and days filled with worry, sadness, and confusion. I remember being both of you. I remember the smile I would show to my friends and then I remember the tears no one knew that I cried behind my closed bedroom door.

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Oh, how I wish I knew that everything would be okay someday. But, I probably wouldn’t have believed it at the time.

Oh, how I remember those teenage years as the most painful years of my life. Living under a microscope. Everything was magnified. I know it’s hard to believe, but your teenage feelings, friendships, family, and appearance are way out of proportion. You think that whatever happens will stay that way forever. Nothing is farther from the truth. Nothing stays the same.

Steve Carrell said it best in Little Miss Sunshine after Paul Dano told him that he just wants to go to sleep and wake up when he’s 18.  Steve Carrell answered, ““What? High school—those are your prime suffering years. They don’t get better suffering than that.“ “Do you know Marcel Proust? He had a miserable life. He gets to the end of his life and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, those were the best years of his life because they made him who he was. All those years when he was happy, you know… a total waste. He didn’t learn a thing. Sleep until you’re 18? Think of the suffering you’ll miss.”

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It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Your teenage years were the best suffering of your life. Those painful breakups, lonely nights, and tears cried are the times that make you stronger, smarter and sculpt you to become the rock-solid adult that you will become.

Peer pressure helps you define yourself.

If it weren’t for your friends testing your limits, how would you know what you believe in? How would you know what you like and who you want to be?  Peer pressure is a mirror that’s held up to your face every day that says, “is that really who you want to be? Which group of people do you want to be with?” Peer pressure is the fork in the road that helps you define your life goals. Even though it doesn’t seem like it at the time, you have a chance to know what doesn’t feel right to you. That’s how you know what does feel right. That’s how you know who you are, what you stand for and what you believe in. It’s when your morals and values become sealed in your soul.

Dramatic moments teach you to manage your emotions.

Your emotional moments feel like your world is ending. Every time your heart breaks from a boy who doesn’t love you (even though you thought he did), or when you feel people whisper as you walk through the hallways at school—these are the times when you learn how to manage your emotions. Through the tears, you discover your backbone. That bone becomes your core, your solid foundation that will carry you through all the losses, sadness, and even the joy of the years to come. Your drama helps you to regulate your feelings and stabilize your emotions.  

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The bedroom is your private place to discover your true self.

Those tearful nights that you spent feeling misunderstood were the nights when you discovered your creative visions. Those were the nights when my pen was my best friend, always there for me to help me work through my pain. Those tearful nights in your bedroom will bring out your creative self. Let it all out. Let your creative juices flow. One day you will look back on those nights and thank them for introducing you to your passions and creative future self.

There is no love like a parent’s love.

As much as you feel like your parents are out to make your life miserable, when you look back, you will see the love in your parent’s hearts. They were just afraid you would make the wrong choices and wanted to protect you, not control you. As my mother said, “You will only understand how I feel when you become a parent.” She was right. Thank you, Mom. I understand now. A mother wants to breathe her child’s air before he does to make sure it’s okay for him. Her heart yearns deeply for your success and happiness. Your father does too, but he probably doesn’t know how to express it. Your parent’s love teaches you how to become a parent.

Your first love was not true love.

You couldn’t eat, and you couldn’t sleep; love was all you thought about it. Nothing mattered but you and him. You thought you would never love like that again. Even though you were sure it was perfect, that was not true love. It was fun; it felt great and looking back, it still makes me smile, but teenage love does not compare to adult love. Love gets even better than that.

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Break-ups are not the end of the world.

Friendships broke up and boyfriends dumped you, and you were sure the world was coming to an end, when in reality, you were just growing resilient for the future challenges. Life is full of disappointments, break-ups, losses, and broken dreams. Those teenage losses taught you to deal with the ups and downs of life.

True friends are there for you no matter what, when, or wherever you need them.

Teenage years all about friendships. Some of those friendships will remain throughout the years. Sometimes you won’t speak to each other for years but whenever you need each other, you will show up and pick up where you left off, as if nothing changed. These friendships taught me the value of a true friend and how to be one.

Thank you dear teenage self, for the best suffering of life. Thank you for teaching me the lessons from those broken-hearted moments, breakups, and tear-stained pillows.

I learned that I became stronger than I ever thought I could be. I learned how to stand up for what I believe in. I learned that I am an artist, a poet, and a writer. I learned how to show my children love and teach them how to love themselves. I learned how to pick myself up, brush myself off, and continue to move forward through the difficult times. I learned the meaning of friendship and love. I learned that true love is real. Happily ever after does exist, but it’s hard work that’s worth the effort.

Thank you for the pain, mistakes, and heartache that will become the best teachers. Embrace those painful moments. Those are the years that will teach you how to laugh, love and live a meaningful life.

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June Silny

ADHD Coach, Writer, ADDitude Magazine featured contributor

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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How Relationships Building Helps Achieve Career Success

How Relationships Building Helps Achieve Career Success

As playwright Wilson Mizner supposedly said all the way back in the 1930s,

“Be kind to everyone on the way up; you will meet the same people on the way down.”

The adage is the perfect prototype for relationship building in 2020, although we may want to expand Mizner’s definition of “kind” to include being helpful, respectful, grateful, and above all, crediting your colleagues along the way.

5 Ways to Switch on Your Relationship Building Magnetism

Relationship building does not come easily to all. Today’s computer culture makes us more insular and less likely to reach out—not to mention our new work-from-home situation in which we are only able to interact virtually. Still, relationship building remains an important part of career engagement and success, and it gets better with practice.

Here are five ways you can strengthen your relationships:

1. Advocate for Other’s Ideas

Take the initiative to speak up in support of other team members’ good ideas. Doing so lets others know that the team’s success takes precedence over your needs for personal success. Get behind any colleague’s innovative approach or clever solution and offer whatever help you can give to see it through. Teammates will value your vote of confidence and your support.

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2. Show Compassion

If you learn that someone whom you work with has encountered difficult times, reach out. If it’s not someone you know well, a hand-written card expressing your sympathy and hopes for better times ahead could be an initial gesture. If it’s someone with whom you interact regularly, the act could involve offering to take on some of the person’s work to provide a needed reprieve or even bringing in a home-cooked dish as a way to offer comfort. The show of compassion will not go unnoticed, and your relationship building will have found a foothold.

3. Communicate Regularly

Make an effort to share any information with team members that will help them do their jobs more effectively. Keeping people in the loop says a lot about your consideration for what others need to deliver their best results.

Try to discover the preferred mode of communication for each team member. Some people are fine relying on emails; others like to have a phone conversation. And once we can finally return to working together in offices, you may determine that face-to-face updates may be most advantageous for some members.

4. Ask for Feedback

Showing your willingness to reach out for advice and guidance will make a positive impression on your boss. When you make it clear that you welcome and can accept pointers, you display candor and trust in what opinions your superior has to offer. Your proclivity towards considering ways of improving your performance and strengthening any working interactions will signal your strong relationship skills.

If you are in a work environment where you are asked to give feedback, be generous and compassionate. That does not mean being wishy-washy. Try always to give the type of feedback that you wouldn’t mind receiving.

5. Give Credit Where It’s Due

Be the worker who remembers to credit staffers with their contributions. It’s a surprisingly rare talent to credit others, but when you do so, they will remember to credit you, and the collective credit your team will accrue will be well worth the effort.

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How Does Relationship Building Build Careers?

Once you have strengthened and deepened your relationships, here are some of the great benefits:

Work Doesn’t Feel So Much Like Work

According to a Gallup poll, when you have a best friend at work, you are more likely to feel engaged with your job. Work is more fun when you have positive, productive relationships with your colleagues. Instead of spending time and energy overcoming difficult personalities, you can spend time enjoying the camaraderie with colleagues as you work congenially on projects together. When your coworkers are your friends, time goes by quickly and challenges don’t weigh as heavily.

You Can Find Good Help

It’s easier to ask for assistance when you have a good working relationship with a colleague. And with office tasks changing at the speed of technology, chances are that you are going to need some help acclimating—especially now that work has gone remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of relationship building rests on your genuine expressions of appreciation toward others. Showing gratitude for another’s help or for their willingness to put in the extra effort will let them know you value them.

Mentors Come Out of the Woodwork

Mentors are proven to advance your professional and career development. A mentor can help you navigate how to approach your work and keep you apprised of industry trends. They have a plethora of experience to draw from that can be invaluable when advising you on achieving career success and advancement.

Mentors flock to those who are skilled at relationship building. So, work on your relationships and keep your eyes peeled for a worthy mentor.

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You Pull Together as a Team

Great teamwork starts with having an “abundance mentality” rather than a scarcity mentality. Too often, workers view all projects through a scarcity mentality lens. This leads to office strife as coworkers compete for their piece of the pie. But in an abundance mentality mode, you focus on the strengths that others bring rather than the possibility that they are potential competitors.

Instead, you can commit relationship building efforts to ensure a positive work environment rather than an adversarial one. When you let others know that you intend to support their efforts and contribute to their success, they will respond in kind. Go, team!

Your Network Expands and So Does Your Paycheck

Expand your relationship building scope beyond your coworkers to include customers, suppliers, and other industry stakeholders. Your extra efforts can lead to extra sales, a more rewarding career, and even speedy professional advancement. And don’t overlook the importance of building warm relationships with assistants, receptionists, or even interns.

Take care to build bridges, not just to your boss and your boss’s boss but with those that work under you as well. You may find that someone who you wouldn’t expect will put in a good word for you with your supervisor.

Building and maintaining good working relationships with everyone you come in contact with can pay off in unforeseen ways. You never know when that underling will turn out to be the company’s “golden child.” Six years from now you may be turning to them for a job. If you have built up a good, trusting work relationship with others along your way, you will more likely be considered for positions that any of these people may be looking to fill.

Your Job Won’t Stress You Out

Study shows that some 83 percent of American workers experience work-related stress.[1] Granted, some of that stress is now likely caused by the new pandemic-triggered workplace adjustments, yet bosses and management, in general, are reportedly the predominant source of stress for more than one-third of workers.

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Having meaningful connections among coworkers is the best way to make work less stressful. Whether it is having others whom to commiserate with, bounce ideas off, or bring out your best performance, friendships strengthen the group’s esprit de corps and lower the stress level of your job.

Your Career Shines Bright

Who would you feel better about approaching to provide a recommendation or ask for promotion: a cold, aloof boss with whom you have only an impersonal relationship or one that knows you as a person and with whom you have built a warm, trusting relationship?

Your career advancement will always excel when you have a mutual bond of friendship and appreciation with those who can recommend you. Consider the plug you could receive from a supervisor who knows you as a friend versus one who remains detached and only notices you in terms of your ability to meet deadlines or attain goals.

When people fully know your skills, strengths, personality, and aspirations, you have promoters who will sing your praises with any opportunity for advancement.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it is “who you know” not “what you know.” When you build relationships, you build a pipeline of colleagues, work partners, team members, current bosses, and former bosses who want to help you—who want to see you succeed.

At its core, every business is a people business. Making a point to take the small but meaningful actions that build the foundation of a good relationship can be instrumental in cultivating better relationships at work.

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Featured photo credit: Adam Winger via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The American Institute of Stress: 42 Worrying Workplace Stress Statistics

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