When teens write about teenage angst, they learn to navigate the tumultuous world that young adults face – often alone. Writing becomes cathartic. And teens who read these books learn that what they are experiencing is often shared by many others. Kids today face “mean” girls who talk trash about them one day, and call them their “BFFs” the next — just like they have for decades, but today it’s escalated with a click of a button.
Back when I was a kid, gossip seemed to spread quickly because rumors were passed between people in conversations, phone calls, and letters (okay, I’m dating myself…). Today, mean kids can say vicious things and hide behind a social media post. They can cowardly do it on their phones and it instantly reaches hundreds or thousands of people.
Natalie Decena found interpersonal relationships intriguing as she entered adolescence. She wondered about friends who were obsessed with their bodies – they were too fat, not pretty enough, covered in acne. She saw others struggle with sexual identity and bullied over their gender preferences. With girls sleeping with boys because “everyone is doing it,” she explored relationships and found that some boys were crass and not gentlemen (like her father or brother) at all.
Natalie’s quest for answers turned into a 250+ page book called Overcoming Turbulent Times: Teenage Angst. Watching others’ behaviors and searching her soul for 4 years, she wrote 7 chapters that covers everything from body image to gender identity to sexual harassment. It’s cleverly laid out in different formats: text streams, diary, dialog, and reflections. Her father illustrated the book with riveting images.
She’s reached out to her high school to get her book on the required reading for incoming freshmen, and she’s working with medical offices and therapy centers to have her book available for teens in the waiting rooms. Check out this book and give it as gifts to teens. It may help them navigate the scary and often lonely times they’ll face during their adolescence.
Natalie’s project confirmed her interest in psychology and education. Imagine the impact she’ll have on teen’s lives? We need more teens like Natalie!