rachelcoker



The Pressures of Being Seventeen

Something interesting happened last week. I was making my monthly vlog videos (as discussed on Monday), and I decided to do a video on the topic “Benefits and Limitations of Being Seventeen”. I had my camera set up and my hair done all cute and everything (the two biggest priorities when shooting a video, obviously), when something weird happened. I kept talking. And talking. And before I knew it, I had a seven minute long video that would probably take three hours to upload to YouTube and that no one would ever want to take the time to watch!

It’s kind of unbelievable, but I guess I just had a lot to say about the struggles of being a teenage author. Because the benefits part took like a minute and a half (although there are so many more I could have listed!), and then I just started getting really emotional when talking about my struggles. I decided against posting the video, since no one wants to hear me drone on about my life for seven whole minutes, but I thought I’d reiterate some of my thoughts here.

Obviously, when someone thinks about what it would be like to be a teen author, there are a lot of benefits that immediately come to mind. And I’m very blessed to do what I do at my age. It’s amazing to have such unique, great connections and relationships with my readers, and to be able to relate to them on a personal level. I love “meeting” new people, and getting the opportunity to share my passion with others. There’s nothing else that I would rather be doing with my life right now, and I’m thankful for every moment God gives me to write and blog.

However, I also think a lot of my friends and readers don’t really realize how stressful my life can be at times. Because as normal as my life seems to me and probably to most of my friends, I’m constantly aware of the fact that I’m not just another teenage girl. I do have this blog, and these relationships with hundreds of people who I’ve never met before, but who read my thoughts and ask me questions and make judgments of me based on my words, whether they’re good or bad.

There’s a lot of pressure I’m under, as a writer and blogger, that I don’t think a lot of people are aware of. And part of the reason for that is that I’m not very good at constantly being honest and open about it. I’m a people-pleaser to the death, and I hate making others uncomfortable or offended. I don’t like disclosing my private feelings and insecurities to anyone, even my good friends. And so I feel like I’m constantly second-guessing and fretting and worrying that I’m going to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing and mess up someone’s opinion of me. I know that it’s awful, but it’s true.

I realize that I’m a role model to some younger girls. I don’t mean that in a snobby or selfish way at all! It’s not something I glory in, or think pridefully, it’s just something that I view as a fact. It’s something that my mother tells me almost every day, when I’m tempted to compromise on an issue, or seek an easy way out. And because I’m a role model, I get so worried that I’ll do something wrong or misrepresent Christ in some way.

Being a blogger, and knowing that there are hundreds of people from all over the world, most of them young girls, reading what I say and looking up to me in a way, can be a very scary thing. Because, at seventeen years old, I don’t have all the answers. I still make a lot of mistakes and I get confused and scared sometimes. At times I feel like I’m under an immense amount of pressure to be a good example and a wealth of information when all I really feel like doing is hiding under my covers and deleting my blog!

My mom will be the first to tell you that I take my words and my blog very, very seriously. I have cried, apologized, felt sick, and spent hours in prayer over different emails and comments I have gotten. I constantly want to be able to give people the right answers about things, but sometimes I feel absolutely clueless or I make a mistake and automatically the first thing I think is, “How am I supposed to be an example to these girls if I can’t do things right myself?”

I also sometimes get this false idea in my head that I have to be constantly proving myself to people. Proving that I’m mature enough, or talented enough, or tough enough to thrive in an adult writing world. And while I realize that’s totally ridiculous and people will just accept me the way I am, sometimes that doesn’t feel good enough. I get disappointed in myself if I can’t meet up to my expectations of how I should be doing and how quickly I should be pushing things out. And so I’m really just putting unnecessary pressure on myself at times, to be this superwoman that I really don’t have to be.

At the end of the day, my life isn’t depressing and it isn’t even overly stressful. I’m definitely not trying to depress you all and keep you from wanting to get published! I still laugh and dream and go to the movies every now and then. It’s not a bad existence. 😉 But I do want to try to be more honest from now on about when I’m struggling with something. This blog isn’t my diary, but it should be an accurate reflection of who I am as a person. And I’m not perfect. I worry about what people think of me, and I put way too much emphasis on making sure I’m inoffensive and encouraging all the time.

And every single one of you that has ever told me that you were inspired by me, I know exactly how you feel. Because I have role models, too. And I don’t expect them to be perfect. But I do appreciate it when they are honest, and straightforward, and heartfelt.

Every time I feel discouraged and upset by a mistake I made or unnecessary pressures I’m under, my mom reminds me of this short and simple phrase: “How loving and patient He must be, ‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me.” By the grace of God, I know that everything will be okay and that He will use my little blunders and fears to bring Him glory in the end. And that makes my life ten million times better. 🙂

-Rachel

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Comments

  1. * Leorah :) says:

    Rachel, I can understand what stress you go under at times and am glad you told us readers about it. I think a lot of times we just look at writing as the best thing ever and though I am sure your writing has been the cause of some of the best days of your life, it is not all butterflies and rainbows and it is good to know of these things ahead of time as well. So thank you.

    As for how I can understand the stress you are under, my grandma used to work with royalty in Finland. Because of this, she had extremely high expectations for me and my siblings in every category of our lives. As it turns out, I wanted to please my grandma so I became the picture of perfection whenever she was around. At first I loved the praise and admiration from her. But that was before she started to tell everyone in the world I knew how wonderful I was and I had to live to please them as well.

    Once again, the praise and admiration was nice but in time, it wasn’t worth giving up my totally cooky and semi-obnoxious side of life for. Finally I just quoted Albert E. to her and said, “If everyone was perfect, we would never try anything new.” And in saying that, got back into my old self.

    Now, I know we are in completely different situations! I was being stressed out from being a person anything but me while you are just stressed out because you feel like you always need to be your better self in front of us peers of yours. In the end, all we really share is the feeling of being stressed out. But that feeling is enough and I just want you to know, I know what it is like. And that I realize if everyone was perfect, we would never try out anything new. So please don’t feel stressed out about being a good or bad role model in front of me. Your a role model and I am going to learn from both your achievements and mistakes. ❤

    | Reply Posted 4 years, 6 months ago
  2. * Emily says:

    I’m really glad you shared this with us, Rachel. Being one to second-guess myself WAY too often, I can totally empathize with you on that point. 😉 However, even amidst your seventeen-year-old blunders and mistakes, you really are an awesome person; and God has an even awesomer plan for your life–He’s already working! 🙂

    | Reply Posted 4 years, 6 months ago
  3. * Margaret says:

    Thank you so much, Rachel, for sharing. It’s so easy to put a lot of pressure on ourselves, but we have to remember: We don’t have to be enough. Jesus is enough. I just wrote about this recently on my blog, about how I am nothing without Him. (If you want, you can read that here: http://boldbrightbeautiful.com/?p=405) Remember that your identity is not in what readers think of you or in what you do or don’t do. It’s in Jesus.

    And thanks for being honest. I think we all have this image of who we should be, of who people want us to be, and it’s really hard to live up to. We end up feeling burdened and worse than everyone else. But the truth is we’re all like that! We all make mistakes. All of us feel like we’re not enough. And it makes it so much easier to be honest about that when someone else steps out and says that they’re not perfect. But Jesus is perfect so that we don’t have to be.

    | Reply Posted 4 years, 6 months ago


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