This is the ninth installment of The Slacker's Guide To Success, based on my work with teens, young adults and their families. The introduction can be found here. The other chapters are available here.
Helping Teens Form New Boxes of Safety "Out There"
If you ask a teenager to describe his or her room, they will often tell you that they feel that their room and their computer desk create a box of safety for them. If you press further (but don't nag) they may confess that although it feels good to have such a great box of safety, they realize it is also limiting. The same holds true for their friends. Together they co-create boxes of safety. It should be mentioned that there are two kinds of boxes of safety: negative ones and positive ones.
So, how do you create new positive boxes of safety?
Warning to new parents! Set up your children's computer and play systems in a communal room. Leave the bedroom for books and music. Now for the billion people who haven't done that... this article is for you.
Once upon a time... the idea of kids doing homework in their bedroom seemed like a good, quiet idea. When computers came on the scene and became affordable, you had to ask; why not put one in the bedroom so little Skeeter would have access to...does anyone remember what computers did before they do what they do? Then, of course, we had to get them plugged in. When the living room version of pong was replaced by computer games, a whole can of virtual worms opened up.
Well, here we are, in the new millennium, back in our child's room. Could we have imagined such a cool place existing when our "fortress of solitude" was a snow castle and Ed Sullivan was watched in our parent's room on a 19" TV with our older sister screaming in our ears as the Beatles sung She Loves You?
In Step Eight of The Slacker's Guide To Success "Three Toes in the Water," I suggested that you pick a 12 week trial to use the success skills of a daily routine, discipline and following your positive passions by creating a test period of either school or apprenticeship for one term.
If you have started this process, you now are stuck in the middle of "out there" without your "magic" bedroom. Here is a system that works to create new positive boxes of safety:
Transforming your negative boxes of safety into positive ones:
What did you do in your negative boxes of safety? Hang with fellow World Of Warcrafters, play at the local magic card shop, look for smokers, look for stoners -- guess what? You had the perfect skills to find boxes of safety. You had the buzz words, the affectations (bleary eyes, stubble) to have instant access to the negative boxes of safety. The same system works for the positive boxes of safety, they just have different buzz words and affectations (being passionate about your work, being clean, knowing your work, being prepared and most importantly; making your word your bond).
So with your new instant access pass, find common ground with students/co-workers, hang with the people who stay late or get in early, talk to the prof/manager/boss. Talk to the T.A.s or secretaries, find the people who are also "on purpose." It doesn't matter what their purpose is, it matters that they are following their bliss and remember: If the new boxes of friends/classmates/teachers do not fit your purpose, find other boxes.
You are now in new, positive boxes of safety, meeting with people who will accept you for following your purpose and sharing the qualities of passion and striving that you have in common. It feels just as good as the old boxes but there is something new...the glimmer of hope that you may find your greatness in life and rise up and make it happen. Each positive action builds upon itself. Each setback becomes merely a minor bump on the road you are traveling on and everything leads you towards your bliss.
You may just find yourself unboxed and free for the very first time!