Pitfalls and Barriers

You will hit barriers or fall into pitfalls several times along the way – maybe lots of time. You can’t avoid all of them and they are not an indication of failure. They are a natural part of the journey Just be aware and focus on avoiding as many as possible

These barriers and pitfalls will fall into five basic categories.

1. “I’m just a teenager” – how much influence do I really have – how much of an author can I really be?

Failing to get into the author role and letting life just happen to you is easy to do – and it will happen unless you commit to leaving the dependency of childhood and start experimenting with being the author.

Underestimating the influence you can have in determining your experience is normal, but those doubts need to be challenged directly. It’s a risk and doesn’t always go smoothly or quickly, but it’s at the heart of being a teenager on the journey to adulthood.

2. “Who am I to have a heroic code or a plan for my life as a teenager? If I have a code and a plan, I have made commitments I might not be able to fulfill. Am I a loser if I don’t fulfill my code or plan?”

Not creating a code for yourself to guide behaviors might seem safe, but it isn’t because it leaves you more vulnerable to forces outside yourself. Codes are commitments and they can inspire and guide actions, but they can also feel like demands and they certainly increase a sense of responsibility.

Another pitfall is forgetting that your plan is “your” plan – not what others expect or want. Your plan is another set of commitments – that you make to yourself – and can provide a lot of energy and guidance.

A vision is not just a picture of what could be;
it is an appeal to our better selves,
a call to become something more.
Rosabeth Moss Cantor

3. “People won’t care enough to support me – am I worth their support?”

That is a natural and powerful question – and the answer is, “yes” you are worthy of their support. You will also need their support – not just as a teenager, but throughout life. Most people are very willing to be supportive, particularly if they know how to support you – so let them know.

Failing to create a support network and keeping it healthy (like a spider in a web) is a common pitfall for teenagers and adults. Putting a support network in place (even a small one) may feel awkward, but it’s worth it.

4. “I’m just not mastering this stuff. I’m falling behind others. I’m tired”

Letting frustrations, setbacks or failures cause you to doubt yourself, get into self-destructive behaviors or drain the energy from your efforts is a common pitfall. The journey from childhood to young adulthood is long and it’s tough, so there is no way to avoid the ups and downs, the doubts and confusion and just the amount of energy it takes. There are lots of “ups”, but the downs can dominate at times.

That’s when it’s important to remember that it is a journey, that mastery requires “learning to love the plateaus” along the way, that you need to rely on your support network (and maintain it), and that you need to focus on the possible sources of energy that are out there for you. And that perseverance is the name of the game – even when you don’t feel like it.

Failing to focus on the sources where you can get or renew your energy for the journey. Forgetting that mastery is a process with plateaus (where the ability is really built) and obvious spurts of performance may take quite a while.

5. “I’m lacking resources that others have and I live in a dangerous neighborhood with little support and lots of people trying to get me to go down an unhealthy path.”

This is a scenario in which being the author is critical, although extremely difficult. While teenagers who live a privileged life may be able to let life just happen to them for a while (but only a while), those in this kind of environment need to act immediately and in any areas where there is even the smallest opportunity.

Having a vision of a desired future or a code, planning specific actions to move toward that future, engaging anyone who will support you – and then persevering – may not show big improvements for a long time, but it is the path that offers the most possibility.

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.