Ask Amy: Teenager should learn to be here now

Dear Amy: I’ll be a junior in high school in the fall.

So far, high school has been bland. The only excitement for me is the fact that I’m going to Japan on a school trip soon.

I want to attend an out-of-state college because I want to have a fresh start.

I want to have some kind of friend group (since I’m an introvert), to have a boyfriend, and to attend parties (but I don’t only want to party in college).

I have a hard time making decisions because I’m so worried that whatever I choose will be a bad decision and affect my future.

I tend to dwell on the future rather than the present.

I tend to be very hard on myself, which makes me feel like I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to this stuff.

I’m always worrying about things instead of just relaxing and “being a teenager.”

Other times, I feel like I’m behind in everything that should happen to teenagers. Sometimes, I just want to stop trying because nothing is going right for me.

But other times, I want to keep going and try and see what happens.

What should I do?

— Doubting Everything in Life

Dear Doubting Everything: Let me start by assuring you that what you are going through is very much within the norm, not only for teenagers, but for people at every stage of life.

As a former anxious and doubting teenager, I’ll pass along my own hard-earned wisdom: Life unfolds in fits and starts, and anxiety doesn’t seem to change the outcome. Looking back, the only regrets I have are those things I was too scared or anxious to try.

Many teens are saddled with a very short view of their own futures; this is why the teen years tend to be experimental, but aside from times when poor judgment leads to accidents, injury, or pregnancy, very few decisions you make now will change the course of the rest of your life.

College isn’t really the experience you see portrayed in the media. It will definitely broaden your choices, but you’ll still be yourself, with many of the same questions, concerns, and insecurities. That’s why it is important for you to understand that the only person locking you into a specific future is you.

My advice for you is to deliberately shorten your view. For the rest of the summer, promise yourself not to look beyond the summer.

This overseas trip is an amazing opportunity to live in the moment and to form friendships and connections. If you don’t slow down your racing thoughts, you will miss what’s right in front of you.

Researching Zen Buddhism as practiced in Japan might help you to comprehend that there is no purpose in being somewhere if all you are doing is thinking of going somewhere else.

Write down these three words: Be here now.

Dear Amy: We received an invitation to a graduation party for a very deserving young man.

Suddenly, one week before the graduation party we received a Facebook invite to an “additional celebration.” The young graduate’s sister accepted a promotion at her company and will be moving out of state for her new job.

The graduation party is now a dual party.

Do we take a going away gift for the daughter?

If yes, what is an appropriate gift and how much should we spend?

We are already giving $100 to the graduate.

— Confused Friends

Dear Confused: Adults who get job promotions already have their party gift — the promotion.

If you are close to this young woman and want to celebrate her good news, then you could give her a coffee card for a modest amount (“your first few brews in your new home are on us!”).

Otherwise, I don’t think it’s necessary to give the sister anything except your sincere expressed delight and excitement about her new adventure.

Dear Amy: I had to share with my co-workers the letter from “Grateful Grandchild,” who wanted their inheritance in advance in order to travel.

We came up with different options. There wasn’t a single person who thought that this request would be OK, which you very delicately pointed out. (Too delicately!)

First, this grandchild should look up the word “inheritance.”

It is something left upon a person’s passing, not before.

— Working It

Dear Working It: First of all, I love hearing that these questions are shared and discussed. And while I am seldom accused of being “too delicate,” I take your point!

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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