I’ve been worried a lot recently. Even adults find the news a bit too much to deal with sometimes, it can feel a bit overwhelming.
One of the main things I’ve been thinking about, though? How much harder this would be if I was younger. Being a teenager is hard enough without feeling like the world is ending. I should know: over a decade ago, I spent a lot of my time watching the news and being scared of what it was teaching me about the world.
I still remember the feelings of fear I felt back then, feelings that continued over the weeks (and years) that followed. Everything was suddenly terrifying. I learnt all sorts of words I hadn’t known before – words like ‘terrorism’ – and realised that wars weren’t just things that happened in history books.
So, here’s some advice from me to you: a few tips and tricks I wish someone told me when I wasn’t sure exactly what to do:
1) Learn as much as you want to…
When there’s a lot happening in the news it’s easy to feel like there’s too much to get to grips with, especially if it all feels really bad. But knowledge is power and learning as much as possible can help you feel more in control. The news is a good place to start, as is the internet. Remember that your generation is the first to grow up with all the knowledge you can think of at your fingertips, so be sure to make the most of it. But likewise don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know everything, and talk to your friends, siblings, parents and teachers when you think like they might be able to help you make sense of what’s going on in your head.
2) …but don’t be afraid to switch off
Even though it’s a great thing to have access to so much knowledge on the web, don’t be scared to just switch it all off. Ignore as much as you want or need to. It’s good to educate ourselves, but sometimes learning more about things doesn’t do much beyond just making you feel more frightened. And don’t feel guilty about who you are or the good things in your life, even if you do think the world is unfair.
3) Try not to feel scared…
If you feel scared or anxious, don’t be afraid to ask questions to help you know more about what’s going on in the world. Even when it feels like things are out of control, it’s good to remind yourself that there are a lot of people in the world keeping things going. It’s hard to convince ourselves that ‘things will be fine’, but I still like to tell myself that sometimes, even if I don’t quite believe it.
4) …but don’t feel bad if you are
Try and always remember that it’s totally normal to be overwhelmed by everything happening, and that you’re not alone. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how much or how little you know, feeling uncertain when times are tough is completely normal.
5) Get involved in making positive change
Look up the issues you’re passionate about and try to make the changes you can, big or small. There are so many ways of getting involved with charities or fundraisers that do good work, and lots of ways you can do more good in your own communities. Have a chat with that person at school who might need a friend, and do simple things like share a few sweets with someone having a bad day. These things are tiny, but on the right day they can make a huge difference in someone’s life.
Maybe commit yourself to educating your friends, and raising awareness about global issues. Or perhaps save a small bit of money, and donate it somewhere. Don’t shy away from asking other people to help if you think they can, too.
Remember: your voice matters as much as anyone else’s, and using it is key to making you feel like someone is listening – and that sooner or later, things will get better.