How I built confidence as a teen girl – perspectives of a 22 year old
Teens today are facing major pressures like never before. While being a teenager has always been hard, teens today are facing their own unique set of challenges. Whether they be pressures caused by never-ending expectations, school, relationships, social media, or living through a global pandemic, teens are growing up in a much faster-paced society full of uncertainty.
It has been normalised that teenagers deal with a lot. However, this normalisation has made these struggles acceptable. Just because it is a universal experience does not make it okay. We need to move away from a culture of acceptance and like Bec would say move towards “intelligent rebellion.”
When teens are confident they are much better equipped to face and overcome challenges. It is important to give teens the opportunities to build self-confidence as they bring their experiences from adolescence with them into adulthood. Our teens are amazing and deserve much more credit than we give them. The least we can do is to support them in developing self-confidence and create a space where they can be themselves.
Finding a positive outlet for teens can be empowering and instill confidence. There are many outlets available for teens whether they be, physical, creative, intellectual, communal or even a combination of all four. Looking back to my teenage years, I developed self-confidence through snowboarding and performing arts.
Snowboarding taught me how to confront fear and push myself beyond my limits. Now let’s be real, snowboarding is high risk and to be honest, it can be very scary. No matter how good you get at snowboarding there is always going to be fear. This includes the fear of injury, failure and judgment (this one was significant to me as being a female in a male-dominated sport had its own set of challenges, but for now I will leave that for another blog post).
In freestyle snowboarding, you are always wanting to progress whether it be wanting to hit bigger jumps or rails, learn a new trick, or gaining the courage to compete in competitions. Each of those ambitions has risks involved. Snowboarding allowed me to push through the fear and do it anyway. Now I am well aware that it is much easier said than done, with some days on the hill being harder than others. However, the feelings that you get when you confront those fears are exhilarating.
Through hitting those harder features, continuing to learn new tricks, and entering those competitions, I learned to persevere and manage my fears. It allowed me to learn that I am in control and while something may seem challenging that does not mean it is impossible. Ultimately, snowboarding allowed me to feel empowered and learn lessons that I take with me in my everyday life.
In Drama class, during my final year of school, I had the opportunity to devise and perform a solo show. Being the women’s rights activist that I am, I decided that I wanted to confront victim-blaming in sexual assault cases. I was inspired by the art exhibit “What were you wearing?” created by survivors of sexual assault at the University of Florida. During the piece, I confronted the ideas of blaming women for the clothes that they may wear. I ended the performance by holding up a sign that wrote “I am not the problem” and questioned the audience by asking them “are you the problem?” This was a powerful piece on a very heavy topic and wow, I am amazed at the confidence I had as a teen to perform this in an auditorium full of people. This opportunity gave me a voice to challenge victim-blaming attitudes, an issue that I felt very strongly about. Teens do care about the global challenges we are facing so it is important to give them agency to confront these issues.
Parents, encourage your children to try new activities and look for where they might shine. It may be learning a new sport such as snowboarding or giving them an outlet to express themselves in performing arts. Along the way they may discover a new talent, learn to challenge themselves, and/or develop lifelong skills. Our teens are incredible and resilient so let’s support them in developing self-confidence.
Juliette ripping it up in the skate park
Juliette is a talented snowsports coach. ‘Girls that Shred’ is her all girl snowboard coaching squad, inspired by her experiences learning to hold her own in a male-dominated arena
This month’s post is by Juliette Perera.
Juliette is a student in her final year of studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Education / Children and learning at AUT. She is passionate about gender equality and social justice and enjoys working with young people.
At AUT, Juliette is a Peer Mentor, who supports students in navigating university life and provides academic assistance. Juliette is also a qualified Ski and Snowboard instructor who has an immense passion for inspiring and empowering females in snow sports. She has created and coached a female freestyle snowboard program Girls That Shred.
In her spare time, you will find Juliette outside snowboarding, skiing, skating, or surfing.
About the author.