Be Yourself (Supporting Young People)
Posted by Admin
25th Jun 2018

Be Yourself (Supporting Young People) - by Ellen M.J Deaville

£1.78 the cash machine sneered at me…£1.78 !!!

I just stared at it in disbelief as a sea of thoughts washed over me. Like how I was going to follow my ‘high protein diet’ in the coming week when the only protein in the cupboard was Felix? I felt scared, anxious and depressed that even though I worked full time, I somehow had less in my pocket than when I was a college student. What about all the things I had been told about “getting a good job... going to university... having a career”? Was £1.78 really all I amounted to after all that hard work? And why had I been so naïve and unprepared for all these harsh realities?

Should I in my job as a Careers Adviser to young people, be raising their aspirations and daydreams? Or is it better to hit them with facts and figures like the cost of living and all the other grown up things there are to worry about? Would it help them to feel more prepared or just depress them? And do I really want them to feel as vulnerable as the last turkey in the shop on Christmas Eve? NO - I don’t !!!

I don’t think it is our job to squash young people’s dreams and frighten them. They’re not oblivious to reality and are already far too aware that life can be tough – they see videos on social media and secretly watch late night TV when we think they are asleep. And every school and college wall has a noticeboard that tells them to BEWARE of online evils, grooming or exploitation, so it’s no wonder they feel so anxious. What they need is an Escape, a route back to their childhood and a place to feel safe. So ask them to watch a film, go for a bike ride, play football or show you some make-up tricks, anything to give them the chance to talk and open up if they want to, unravel themselves from the chains of technology that have invaded every minute. I went in to switch off our daughter's light last night only to find she had gone to sleep with her mobile phone stuck to her cheek with it still buzzing away even in the middle of the night !!!

I’ve started volunteering at a Youth Club on a Friday night in the hope of seeing young people in their natural habitat. Relaxed and laughing rather than pale and tired, as far too many are in school. So what a surprise to see the table tennis, Twister and Wi-Fit all being enjoyed instead of the usual mobile induced isolation. It took me back to being that age myself, when the only thing on my mind was which lip gloss to take to the school disco.

Young people need to be allowed to PLAY, to LAUGH and MESS about – that’s what being young is all about! So don’t burden them with exam stress and worries about “choosing a career” before they are ready to. Don’t expect them to make what should really be adult decisions and obsess about their future. Give them permission to relax in their spare time, see their friends and get some down time. Give them the space to grow and to just enjoy being young.

Ellen M.J Deaville's book Just Be Yourself is available on Amazon.

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