“I just want to be normal!!”
This is a statement I have heard from kids I work with more times than I can count. The desire to be ‘normal’ is so strong in us that we will sometimes turn ourselves inside out, give up our own interests, ignore our gut instincts, and make some really poor decisions so that we can appear ‘normal’ to others, fit in, or try to quiet the negative, judgmental thoughts we have about ourselves. This is even more true for adolescents than any other time in our lives.
Teenagers are in a period of identity formation, which can be confusing, stressful, exciting, scary, disappointing, distracting, and more. The unfortunate thing is that there really isn’t a normal; we are all different and that can be difficult to accept.
Oliverian students sometimes feel this struggle more than others because our culture dictates the idea of a normal pathway to graduation and college, but our kids often take a side road here and there. At Oliverian we want students to find their own pathway forward in the time and way that is best for them. A student realizing that they have reached a goal in their own way can be a crucial step. The sooner parents and families can let go of their idea of normal and send the message to their student that their individualized path is also correct, the sooner the student will find self-acceptance and ultimately, success.
Take a look at your own emotions that are attached to a specific outcome. Are you thinking the same thoughts about ‘normal’ as your student? Can you be flexible in your thinking and recognize that there are multiple possible outcomes? If you can let go of it, you can help your student let go of it too.
Dean of Counselors