Overcoming Adolescent Pressures and Building Self-Confidence

Jan 10, 2024

High schooler finds community acceptance and love in church family.

Brittany was the typical teenager in 2020. She was just entering middle school when COVID hit, stranding her with in-home teaching and a veritable prison. There she was without an important support group and friends, just as she was reaching the age where friends became increasingly important.

“I felt like I went from elementary school right into high school,” she says. “But I didn’t get to mature along the way as I would have done if I had the middle school experience. You could say I was a little lost when I showed up in high school.”

High school is never easy. The dynamics are so different. There is a blend of physically mature “near-adults” and many emotionally immature children. Losing the transition stage in middle school means some kids are thinking like six graders while they interact with adults.

It’s during these formative years that kids are exploring. Dating and spending time with the opposite sex becomes important. Carving out your own unique identity becomes a key goal. Who am I? How should I act around others? Do I want to be popular? What am I willing to sacrifice for popularity?

“I wanted to be popular and well-liked. I joined the cheer squad. I began hanging out with the sports team and cheer teams. I started to go to the high school parties,” she explained. “This is where things got messy. “I felt that all of a sudden I was put into a situation where I had to compromise who I was to remain popular. I learned about peer pressure and the drama associated with hanging out with the wrong friends.”

“I was making friends but feeling empty inside,” she said. “Is this what life as a young adult is supposed to be like? I felt like I was in quicksand. I was being pressured to make bad decisions for the wrong reasons.”

Brittany could feel that she was changing. But not in the way she wanted. She realized she needed to take charge of the person she could become. She had to regain her sense of self.

“It wasn’t until a friend from middle school called me and asked to hang out”, she explained. “She invited me to church with her. At this point I was looking for answers on who I was and what life was really about.”

“Hanging out with my church friends feels like I’m paying attention to the important things in life. I’m with people that genuinely care for me and want me to be happy and healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

The lesson for Brittany was that after an adverse high school experience, she learned what really matters. Staying true to your values and finding the right friends can make all the difference. It directly affects how you feel about yourself.

From Mark: Pick friends that will lift you up and help to make you better than you can be on your own. Find a good friend. Be a good friend. It makes life meaningful.