Teen years are a weird time for most humans. You’re not a kid anymore, but you’re not quite an adult. You’re constantly reinventing yourself, trying on new personas to see how they feel. Your likes and dislikes change by the hour. Old friends might not be a good fit for you anymore, but who are these new friends coming into your life? You test boundaries, limits, and rules. Your body changes. Your mood changes. Who even are you anymore?
All of this doesn’t even take into consideration the many outside stressors teens go through!
When everything gets too overwhelming, your self-esteem can take a hit. We have some advice for maintaining a positive sense of well-being and ways to rebuild your self-worth.
1. LOOK AT YOUR EFFORT
So you got a B instead of an A. Or you came in second place instead of first. We know that stings. But instead of focusing on what didn’t happen, think about how hard you tried. Congratulate yourself on good study habits and self-discipline. There’s always another test, another competition, another game. You did your best and that’s all you can do. By definition, no one can do more than their best.
Strive for progress, not perfection. Did you do better on the test than last time? That’s worth celebrating!
2. SEE YOURSELF AS A WHOLE PERSON
It’s easy to hang your entire sense of self-worth on the one or two things you excel at. Remember that nobody is just one thing in life. You may be a great athlete, but you’re also probably a loving child, a cool sibling, a fun friend, and a great cook.
When you view yourself as a whole person, you’re less likely to let one setback drag you down.
3. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF
Peer pressure can be overwhelming as a teen. And it usually doesn’t come in the form of some over-the-top public service announcement where a circle of so-called friends push you to try smoking because all the cool kids are doing it. Peer pressure can look like your best friend getting really into something you’re not into or gaslighting you for having a different opinion.
Practice being assertive. This is a life skill that comes in handy in nearly all situations you’ll encounter, especially entrepreneurship. When you can successfully assert yourself – with friends, teachers, parents, and bosses – you learn how to trust yourself.
4. EMBRACE A GROWTH MINDSET
A growth mindset means learning from your mistakes. You tried something new, and it didn’t work out. Now you know that’s a thing you find challenging! Next time it comes up, you know you need to ask for help, do more research, or whatever else it takes to face that challenge.
A growth mindset also means staying curious. When you’re always learning, you’re always growing.
5. PRACTICE SELF-CARE
“Self-care” is a term that gets thrown around a lot lately. You might automatically think of yoga, meditation, or long bubble baths and scented candles. And all of those qualify as self-care.
However, self-care looks different for everyone. Self-care for you might be:
- Taking a brisk walk in a park
- Reading a book for fun, not just required reading for school
- Staying home on a Saturday night
- Hanging out with a younger sibling
- Enjoying your favorite dessert
- Watching your favorite movie
- Staying in your comfiest pajamas all weekend
So long as you’re not doing something harmful to yourself or others, your form of self-care is whatever makes you feel good for a little while.
6. USE KIND WORDS WITH YOURSELF
Would you let your best friend spiral into a self-loathing rant? When someone you love thinks they’re stupid, slow, or just plain worthless, do you sit by and let that statement go unchecked? Of course not. So why talk to yourself that way?
Avoid generalized, absolute statements. Turn “I’ll never get this right” into, “I’ll get there eventually.” Instead of, “I suck at this,” try, “I should ask for help.” Imagine someone you love dearly is having the same thoughts you’re having. Whatever you’d say to them to help them feel better, say to yourself.
7. SEEK HELP
Are there people in this world who require zero external validation to feel good? Maybe. We haven’t met one, but they probably exist. For the rest of us mere mortals, however, we sometimes need to hear from others that we’re worthy of love and respect.
Ask your parents what you’ve done recently that they’re proud of. Ask a friend what they like best about you. Ask a younger sibling if there’s anything you can help them with. Sometimes it takes seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes to notice how well you’re doing.
8. TRY SOMETHING NEW
Mastering a new skill or hobby is a wonderful way to feel good about yourself! And at your age, you have an entire world of activities to choose from. Have you never played an instrument, but love music? Download free music-making software and give it a try! Love arts and crafts, but lack drawing or sculpting skills? Learn how to knit!
Try something low-stakes that’s just for fun. If it doesn’t work out for you, no harm done.
9. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you focus on all the things that are going wrong in your life and the world around you. Get yourself into the habit of writing down at least one thing that went right each day. Some days you might only get as far as, “I made it to all my classes on time.” That’s still worthwhile! Practicing gratitude trains your brain to focus on the positives in your life, rather than dwelling on everything that went wrong.
When you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to take the necessary risks involved with successful entrepreneurship. Rejection – from your first-choice college to asking someone out on a date – won’t hurt as much. You’re seen as a go-getter and a positive force for good in the world.
Find out more about the Kantner Foundation’s commitment to young entrepreneurs, including our college scholarships for high school students, by clicking here.