When I became a freshman in high school, I believed I knew everything. As an 8th grader, I, like you, felt like I knew everything there was to know about the world. I felt unstoppable. The older I got, the more unstoppable I felt. Until I moved on to the next school.
When I moved to the next school, (high school and later college) I remember thinking as a freshman that seniors just didn’t “get it” and that they were just off and/or mean for no reason. While I felt like nothing could hurt me, I also tended to feel that I was worthless. Talk about ups and downs!! Things kept happening to me and I just couldn’t understand why. Heck as a sophomore in high school, I remember getting on Yahoo! chat and acting like I was certain seniors. Later in college, I would play it off as if I was somebody that everyone should be familiar with and you were lucky to have me as a friend. But the truth was that I was not acting or comfortable with myself. Society was telling me that I had to be popular and do certain things – but when I did them, it always backfired. What’s funny now though, as I graduated and have had time reflect over the years and met younger and/or less experienced people, I’ve started realizing how brash, judgmental, and naive I must have seemed.
You Just Leveled Up!
There’s a saying that says “If you feel like life is harder, you must have just leveled up.” If you’re unfamiliar with this phrase, it’s simply referring to a a role playing video game in which you get new quests as you level up. The more quests you do, the more experience your character has and the more powers he has. In life, like the game, you must go through quests that take a lot more stamina than you’re used to. However, as you might know from playing those types of games, you get more rewards for sticking with and accomplishing them.
So in a nutshell, the Teenager Principle is simply believing that you’re good at things that you’re really not, but being overly humble about things that you’re good at. When I was told about this principle, things started making sense as to why my confidence was all screwed up. I now know why I felt the world didn’t make sense as a freshman in high school and college. It’s because I had just leveled up. I was taking on a new level of quests. Quests that, while they might seem similar, were at a completely different complexity. A complexity that I would not understand unless I had understood the adventure for what it was and kept moving forward.
Thoughts, questions, comments?
So how about you? Are you going through a period where you seem to be out of your comfort zone all the time? Have you ever noticed this phenomenon? When was the last time you leveled up? I’d love to hear from you. Also, if you’d like me to put you in contact with Mark Boersma, who has helped me discover this principle, feel free to email him at [email protected]!