Teens are in a precarious stage of life. A part of them wants to pull away from the family. They want to find their independence, their uniqueness, and their autonomy. At the same time, the child inside of a teen might want to hang onto their parents. Because of the drastic psychological changes they are undergoing, teens may have a hard time in adolescence. They may become so vulnerable they become susceptible to mental illness. However, teens can look to various cultures and people around the world to illicit the potential growth and independence they may be yearning for.
For instance, teens who are struggling with the experience of loneliness, which is common for teens who feel they don’t fit in, might find a welcoming sense of community in other cultures, such as in Latin America. Other teens who are struggling with boredom at school and who aren’t challenged intellectually might find interest in a culture which possesses a different world view than Western society, such as the indigenous culture of Australia.
If teens want to explore the world as a way to boost their growth, they might consider the following suggestions:
Travel – Teens might begin to plan for extended travel after high school. Many adolescents around the world tend to opt for traveling before beginning university life. After high school, they will spend time in another country perhaps to learn a language, experience new things, or get to know a new way of life. Although it’s common for American teens to go directly on to college after high school, traveling can be just as valuable an education.
Work – If traveling isn’t in a teen’s budget, some teens can opt to work in a job that challenges them – in a good way. Although for some teens, working after high school might be expected by their parents, for others, it may be a conscious choice. And for good reason – working can provide an opportunity to have an experience outside of the academic life. Sometimes, the stressful social and academic pressures of high school can be difficult. However, a job can elicit a teen’s gifts and talents while meeting a whole new group of people with whom to get along.
Visit distant relatives – If a teen doesn’t want to work but still wants to travel, one option might be to stay with relatives who live abroad or live in a different state. In this situation, teens might be able to go somewhere new and possibly even work in that new location. Doing so can provide new experiences which can also help to bring out and develop parts of oneself that might still be growing.
These are suggestions for teens who yearn to see more of the world, or at the very least want to expand their horizons. Of course, teens will most likely want to discuss these ideas with their parents. Then, with a parent’s blessing, planning ahead for such large decisions will help ensure safety and smooth travels.