Erika Bugbee, M.A.
For Teens: Why it Helps to Trust Yourself (and Life) Even when You Feel Lost
When I was 16 I got fired from my first job. I was hurt and ashamed. I briefly considered keying my boss’s car in that long walk across the parking lot.
What made it worse was the two guys I worked with not only didn’t get fired, but they were given business cards that same day.
A few years later I looked back and remembered what a terrible employee I was.
I wore cropped shirts, talked constantly, distracting people that were doing actual work, and flirted with two co-workers.
I was inexperienced and had no idea what professionalism was.
I share this embarrassing story because when it happened, I didn’t understand why they didn’t like me. And why they clearly liked Arnold and Jon (the business card guys) so much more.
And when something bad happens, and you don’t know why, your mind gladly fills in the blanks.
When people are upset, and their imaginations start working, things get ugly so fast.
I’d only been at that job for 2 months and yet I was convinced it was personal.
I started thinking there was something wrong with me, maybe I’d never find a job I could do, or maybe I just didn’t get it. They figured out I was weird or didn’t bring any value.
I doubted myself as a person and felt the truth about me had been revealed.
And yet those bosses were basically strangers to me. I don’t even remember their names.
So when it comes to heavier things like handling a breakup or rejection from friends, our imagination can get pretty dark.
Our thoughts take us places that look and feel real and true, but aren’t.
Fortunately what we can also rely on is that with a little time, our minds recover and straighten out all by themselves.
And with that recovery comes answers and new truths we can trust in the form of clarity, wisdom, and greater perspective.
Through experience comes a progressively deeper understanding about life – jobs, relationships, and whatever we go through.
The upset is just the growing pains.
What follows is a new and wiser outlook, replacing our old outlook like a snake sheds its skin.
At some point, I was reminded of how immature and naive I’d been and was honestly surprised I’d somehow lasted 2 months.
Sometimes we see how we could have done things differently.
And sometimes we see that things just happen and there are no clear answers. Yet there’s a coming to peace.
We all go through things, and we’re never really ready for it.
And in the wake of life going wrong, in that freefall, we have some degree of influence over where, and how far, we let our thoughts go.
We can use our thoughts to try and force answers we don’t have yet.
Or we can do our best to find patience and trust that we have no answers yet, but we will at some point. We always do.
For me, that was a revelation – that I could have problems and things go wrong – really big things that go really really wrong – and not know why. Or what to do.
Sometimes when we really need it, we have no direction, no way of making sense of things, no explanation for what just happened and how to avoid it happening again.
That is a normal, survivable, and universal human experience. Nobody is exempt.
And in those moments, all we have is trust in ourselves and life.
It might not sound like much but for me, that trust is my lifeline.
It gives us hope, grace, and the strength and endurance to wait out the storm.
That’s what today’s video is about.