Stressed teenager with head in hands
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Everyone’s Journey Is Similar – But No-one’s Journey Is The Same

I'm not a fan of parenting blogs written by "experts"

Everyone’s journey is similar but no-one’s journey is the same.

This aphorism popped into my head the other day.

It might be an original thought, or I could have read it somewhere – and claimed ownership!

If it’s one of yours, apologies … oh, and, nice one!

In any event I’ve been mulling over it since.

And here are a few thoughts on it.

Because that’s all I am offering … thoughts, impressions, guess-work… certainly not certainty.

Maybe that’s why I hate those “expert” blog posts.

Ones like “The 10 best candid poses for filtered, cropped, Photowondered, optimally lit natural selfies”.

Or the How To types, like: “How to get your teenager to believe Daddy is not a social retard with a credit card”.

More specifically, I hate those posts and articles that claim knowledge and certainty around complicated things, like happiness or dealing with teenage anxiety.

Right, I’ll say it:

Don’t pretend you know any more about parenting than me and all of us just trying to do the best we can for our kids.

No dogma, no certainty, no bullshit, please

And even if you are an “expert”, I still want your thoughts framed as pointers, something I can work with, not handed down like smug commandments to make me feel like I cannot possibly measure up.

When it comes to parenting blogs, for example, I prefer to read posts where our thoughts, experiences, confusions, and frustrations are shared, and our ideas are just put out there, and discussions are opened or joined.

We get to share the pain and the joys, and hopefully gain insights that will help us on our own journeys

See, when it comes to parenting, we are all on a similar journey but none of our journeys are the same.

When the original aphorism came into my head, I was thinking about my teenage daughter.

What she is going through, like any girl her age.

The usual social pressures … friends … annoying parents … make-up … school and exams … what colour hair would suit me? … what will I do as a career? … what the hell does a career even mean now anyway? …

So much to worry about

But most puzzling of all, and something I am really trying to get my head around is the notion I have of our teenagers being simultaneously self-obsessed, taking themselves way more seriously than I ever would have conceived of at that age … while at the same time tormented by feelings of inadequacy and fears of not measuring up to some impossible yardstick … a fear of not being fascinating. To others as well as oneself.

I recently read an interview in the Sunday Independent newspaper in Ireland with Roz Purcell, a well-known enough model here, the kind of exotic creature that appears in newspapers everywhere, all airbrushed and impossibly gorgeous.

The article was called “How I changed my mindset for a happier, healthier life”, and was accompanied by the same Roz impeccably photographed and presented.

The writer, Niamh Horan, told us how Purcell had reached a point in her life where she was completely comfortable in her own skin, and it had been “a journey and a half”.

We were told that, “Having recently posted unedited photos of stretch marks and her post-meal stomach to her almost 250,000-strong following on social media, the Irish model shared how she has nurtured a healthier new attitude”.

And it hit me, how, at age 28 – as my follow-up Wikipedia research revealed – this obviously already beautiful woman had merely shared some real photographs of herself.

To her 250,000 “followers”.

(Nothing out of the ordinary in the having 250,000 people reading these ordinary thoughts, retweeting them, sharing them, all the while noting every curve, contour and shade of eye-make-up (to be purchased later)).

In the article Purcell talked about how she had gotten sick of putting herself down. “Constantly over-thinking everything I did. I wasn’t the fun Roz I used to be growing up, I was down all the time and really difficult to be around, especially if food was involved”.

She got through it, she told us, by undergoing a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Apparently, CBT has become hugely popular among millennials and the baby boomer generation.

If you didn’t already know it, 15 seconds on Wikipedia tells me CBT “focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviours, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems”.

Our own girl has told us she would like to see a therapist to deal with issues of anxiety. Looking into it, we have discovered that this is a real phenomenon among millennials: the desire to see a therapist or psychiatrist to help them deal with the “stresses” of life.

It’s not that the issues and stresses aren’t real: I have learned the hard way you don’t tell a teenage girl she is exaggerating, or getting overly worked up about normal issues in life. They are real for her.

But I think it’s interesting that CBT is the way to go for so many millennials. Because while it is great at achieving immediate results, ie helping to break bad habits, it does not deal with the underlying causes of existential distress.

These issues will only be tackled and worked out over a life-time. Maybe through therapy, or just through lived experience.

They surely will not be solved at age 28 by posting a few un-airbrushed photographs to your army of followers.

Gosh, this all sounds like I am having a go at Roz Purcell. I don’t know her – and no, I am about to make it 250,001 followers – it’s more about how this article, and how she presented her “journey”, has resonated with me.

I do agree with a core point she makes about how damaging it can be to constantly compare yourself unfavourably with others.

Especially our teenage girls, who can find it so hard to enjoy what they do have, rather than aspiring to the things they don’t.

And all the resulting issues they have over food, weight, and getting the perfect selfie out on Instagram.

Dare we say it, maybe Ms Purcell has woken up to the notion that endlessly focusing on self and selfies leads to an unhealthy lack of interest in others.

Sure anyway, as a wise fella once said, everyone’s journey is similar but no-one’s journey is the same.

  • Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed it, try another one! Follow my blog and you won’t miss out again.

Shank You Very Much

::)

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34 comments on “Everyone’s Journey Is Similar – But No-one’s Journey Is The Same

  1. This is awesome and right on so many points.

    I think about myself and how I used to feel as a teenage girl (awkward, unsocial, afraid, shy) and how I carried this into adulthood right to the age of parenting tweens and teens. I marvel how my 11yo loves taking selfies and struggle with my own inhibitions of taking selfies. (I just recently started taking selfies and posting occasionally but it still feels weird).

    You know, I read someplace that the desire to talk to a therapist has increased exponentially by teens and YAs and that most of their issues appear to be more like every-day coping concerns rather than deep-seated issues requiring psychoanalysis. But, youth today has so much more pressure just because of the digital technology…so, perhaps it’s a good thing. My teen niece sees a therapist (parents divorced) and she learned how to cope better that way.

    Anyway, lots to ponder here. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

    • Hi Claudette … I agree totally about the extra social pressures on teenagers today, and this desire to talk to people who can help them to get a grip on an incredibly complicated life, both the “real” one and the parallel one online and all that. Thanks so much for your comment

      Like

  2. I always think that we are heading towards an American style culture where you just can’t get on in life without some sort of therapy. There certainly wasn’t much available when I was young. I had dealt with two close family member’s deaths by the age of 13 and just ‘had to get on with it.’ (I sound like my Nan now!) I do feel sorry for today’s teenagers though, the pressure of Social Media means that peer competition is stretched far wider than the school classroom (or school year) from when I was a teen.
    I understand what you are saying about the blogs that tell you how to parent, there is a divide in blogs that tell and blogs that tell a story. I call the latter blogging from the heart. I guess there is place in this wide web for both, you have a choice of what you read. (and I’ve dabbled in both)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe I am being a bit harsh on the “experts”; it’s just maybe I end up feeling judged, in that I cannot meet these exalted standards! And you’re right, it is so tough on our social-media addled teens!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely brilliant blog post! youve hit the nail on the head.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a good post on so many different levels. first: “How to get your teenager to believe Daddy is not a social retard with a credit card”, is not going to happen.

    Second, how did we get so many self-proclaimed “experts” on every topic? I think it has something to do with the way we are encouraged to write articles to make them more searchable. A list or a “how to” format is promoted on all the Blogging 101 sites.

    Finally, one of the professional runners posted a picture of herself on social media once that I will never forget. Runners are typically very thin, but this particular runner had a baby 6 weeks before the photo was taken. Her belly was distended and you could see “cottage cheese” on her thighs. She posted it next to another photo taken the same week where she was in a fashion show for runners. The photo was taken head-on, airbrushed, and she was holding her gut in. She looked amazing. She wanted to let her young, female followers know: it’s an illusion! I liked her even more after that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Laurie, yes I’ve read all those instructions to write lists, or How To” posts to make them more Google search friendly. The thing is, how successful are they nowadays? As a reader, I find them a turn-off. I like the style of that runner who burst the PR bubble!

      Like

  5. Ian Northeast

    Another fab article! I love your thinking and you have really nailed it here. I am a big believer in CBT (says the man who has never had therapy) as a form of therapy. On a more personal note, I love reading your blog. Your kids it seem are that step above mine and I get to make mental notes as to what I should expect in the coming years. So, thank you.

    Finally, “No dogma, no certainty, no bullshit, please” – Love it and (stealing) borrowing it…………..

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t imagine I had that maturity to see that CBT would help me when I was a teen but I think it’s great that today’s teens do.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. None of us are ever truly experts at anything. We just muddle along and try and get along the best we can. #TriumphantTales

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tracey Carr

    As always very thought-provoking stuff Enda. I love how you phrase it when you say that focusing too much on self leads to an unhealthy interest in others. Unfortunately too many people I know spring to mind when I think about that. My daughters are so young but already they have an unhealthy interest in mobile phones (one granny constantly handing it to them) and it drives me crazy. And worries me. I feel I need to try and shield them from this culture for as long as I can but boy it is difficult – unless we all just move to a deserted island! Now there’s a thought! #itsok

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah Tracey.. It’s funny how our teens can have such an unhealthy interest in certain social media “icons” and influencers and all that and little interest in real people outside their peer group!!! There is also someu around addiction at work jere, I can’t help thinking

      Like

  9. Yes!!! I’m so with you on this. I once got asked if I could offer my views as a parenting expert, obvs I was very flattered, but I did ask if 1. they had ever read my blog and 2. if by expert they meant a mum who currently had sick in her hair, was trying not to cry and laugh simultaneously and was just getting by best she could. Never got a response to that. Sure I’ve written about parenting, I am one, it’s kind of all I talk about. Ha ha! #BloggerClubUK

    Like

  10. Tracey Carr

    Back from #triumphanttales !

    Like

  11. If I want an expert opinion I’ll go seek one. I try to write my posts based on experience sharing tips with what worked and didn’t work for us as a family, rather than telling people how to do things. #itsok

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Karen Dennis

    So true, my journey is far from what I planned, I suffered a stroke 12 years ago which has left me disabled, still have a life, but very different from before stroke #ghatfridaylinky@_karendennis

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My Mrs., and me, we try so very hard to raise our girls so their journeys are much better than ours. We both ended up with eating disorders and and it took me until my mid-30’s to have a voice. Journeys are all very different, yet we can help them prepare by building their foundations. Great post, Enda. #thatfridaylinky xoox

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I really enjoyed this post. I feel the same way you do about “ expert” posts. We’re al out here trying to do our best as parents, with the added challenge these days of our kids being exposed to so much on the internet and social media (this is why I want my girl to be little for as long as possible). #dreamteam

    Like

    • Hi Charlene… yes it is different for our kids these days with all that social media stuff … but then every generation has had those things they thought would ruin their kids … cinema, television, mixed schools … and survived! Thanks for commenting

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Lovely thought Enda, and beautifully presented, as always. It’s so true about the parenting journeys too – we’re all essentially in the same boat (sleepless nights, kid won’t eat veggies, public tantrums, teenage issues etc etc), yet our individual experiences of the same are so different. And you’re so right, it’s important to share our thoughts, experiences, confusions and frustrations and have a healthy discussion rather than just put one another down. Thanks for linking up with us at #itsok!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve long since practiced a very controlled approach to my blog and social media. I look at my statistics as a fun side note to the things I am doing. I never strive to write posts or share photos just because they will be more popular. I share what I want, I write what I feel like writing. It’s a reason I don’t do sponsored posts or ads. Not knocking those who do, but I know it would bum me out to focus on the stats and write for clicks. So you are right, the journey might be similar, but not the same. Love this post! #GlobalBlogging

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s a good idea you have your personalised T-shirts and mugs, and now our book, to allow you that freedom. So your writing is uncompromised. I have no beef with sponsored posts, or any kind of commercial posts – I just don’t read them myself. Thanks Heather

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I tried CBT before but it doesn’t do anything for me – another sign I’m not a young millennial hahahaha! I think use peoples journeys as guidelines and tips but not as rules as everyone is different!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back tomorrow.

    Like

  18. Pingback: Mix It Up Linky 4/04/19 - Hooks and Dragons

  19. Another thought provoking post! I do hope I’m not guilty of the sort of parenting posts you refer to though!! #itsok

    Like

  20. Another great post. I think it is great that children and young people today are so much more aware of their feelings and mental health and want to talk about it. CBT wasn’t for me, but I have found other talking therapies useful. Thanks for sharing with the #DreamTeam

    Like

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