BC Counsellor - Fall 2012 - (Page 21)
Crossing Oceans to New Worlds:
Teens in Transition
By Adrian Juric
“The beginning of the adventure of finding yourself is to lose your way.”
Genuine discoveries have always demanded a jour ney into t he unknown. Leif Ericsson sailed for – and discovered – the New World five hundred years before Columbus with little more than rumors to guide him. Ferdinand Magellan, the first explorer to circumnavigate the world, sailed with maps made largely of conjecture. The transition from adolescence into young adulthood is a similar journey into the unknown. Exciting new lands beckon to youth from over the horizon. New forms of freedom and adventure are promised, along with the power to shape life according to one’s will. But while the journey promises exciting change, it also promises chaos. For youth quickly realize that for the journey to begin, lines to old roles, old relationships, and old ways of being in the world must first be cast off. The comfort of sheltered harbors must be left behind, and deeper waters must be sought out. Old horizons must sink beneath the waves if new ones are ever to appear. T hi s limina l, in - bet we en t ime is often a time of deep anxiety for youth in transition. Afraid of risking themselves on rough open seas, they may refuse the necessary crossing to a larger, richer form of identity in the world. This refusal may take the form of deliberately sabotaging academic performance. It may take the form of refusing to apply for a job or training program. But whatever form it takes, it comes at great cost to personal development. Because a life not risked is a life not lived. And it is, as poet John O’Donohue point s out, only through the door of risk that growth can enter.
BC Counsellor | Fall 2012 | www.bcschoolcounsellor.com
This is the precise moment where we, t heir adult mentor s, need to intervene. We need to tell youth the tr ue story of our own crossing. They need to hear that we, too, were reluctant to leave the comfort of safe harbors. They need to hear that we too were buffeted by storms of indecision and self- doubt; that we too sometimes regretted the headings we chose for our lives, spending months – sometimes years – frantically scanning the horizon for a new sense of direction. Hearing these stories lets young people know that their fears are a normal part of transition that everyone experiences.
The transition from
adolescence Into young adulthood is a journey into the unknown.
We need to explain how we chose our life course. Young people often labor under the false impression that we had a firm, fixed heading in sight for our per sonal and profes sional lives when we were their age, and that we sailed straight for it without once deviating. We have to disabuse them of this notion. We have to make them understand that most of us started out with only a hazy understand of the course our lives were on. We have to let them know that the headings we set for our personal and professional lives were usually only provisional; that they changed – sometimes radically – with every new encounter along the voyage. We need to explain what following a chosen course in life is really like. A
friend who is an aircraft pilot explained it best. “Most people think that we turn on the autopilot once we reach cruising altitude, and that it keeps us dead on course all the way to the destination. But nothing could be further from the tr uth,” he continued. “Most of the time, on a transatlantic flight, for example, we are actually off-course. Cross-winds, tail-winds, and variations in air density continually interfere w it h t he he adin g we’ve c ho s en. The autopilot senses these deviations, and is constantly having to react to bring the aircraft back on course – usually several times a second.” Living a human life is very much the same. We cruise along until at some point our internal compass lets us know that the career or relationship heading we’ve chosen is taking us too far off-course. So we change direction. These course changes are not ‘mistakes’, any more than the course changes made by an autopilot of an aircraft are ‘mistakes’. They are healthy, normal adaptations to sit uat ion s t hat a re con s t a nt ly changing. Jour ney s into la rger world s of possibility require the courage to lose sight of the known. They require the ability to sail without clear maps, and to trust that the guidance needed will appear along the way. Adult s who work with youth can help them best by reminding them of this. They can tell them the story of their own journey, and in so doing offer living proof that the cros sing is both pos sible and worth it. Adrian Juric is a District Elementar y School Counselor for SD 48 in Squamish, British Columbia.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BC Counsellor - Fall 2012
The Fine Print
We’ve come a Long Way Baby.
Bullying in the Schoolyard: Actual and Virtual
School Counsellors and Bill 22:
Crossing Oceans to New Worlds: Teens in Transition
Index to Advertisers
BC Counsellor - Fall 2012