Life’s journey is filled with smooth places, rough patches, and bridges from one stage to another. When you’re on a bridge between major life stages, it may seem shaky, and it may take some time to get to the other side. You might feel like turning around and going back to familiar surroundings. These transition times can be stressful, since the place you’re headed is unknown. Just remember – these roads have been traveled many times before and you can rely on others for support and advice.
One of the most challenging stages in life, adolescence is when you say goodbye to childhood. You grow into your adult body, and your mind is growing too. Everything may seem confusing. You may struggle with accepting the changes you are going through. The adults around you may seem filled with unimportant or irrelevant advice, and you feel they don’t understand you. But they were once adolescents and may be able to help. Now is when you can set up habits of living that will benefit you the rest of your life: learning to manage your time, eating right, getting exercise, and developing healthy friendships.
Out of the house
Leaving home is bittersweet – for you and your family. As you take flight, whether it’s off to college or simply moving across the street, you’ll test your independence in a completely new way. It may seem scary to be on your own, but you’ll soon learn how do thing things for yourself: making your own appointments, getting yourself up in the morning, being in charge of your meals – and your own laundry! You’ll have freedoms that you’ve never had before, so this is a good time to remember your healthy habits too: getting enough sleep, staying away from alcohol and drugs, practicing safe sex. And calling home regularly to keep your support network involved in your life.
Putting down roots and becoming the head of a household is a new stage that will probably last the rest of your life. If you want to stay single, that’s okay. If you want a life partner, decide on what personality you fit with best. Remember, you’ll be sharing space – and maybe even children – with each other. Finding ways to communicate effectively is very important to creating a happy household.
Adding to the family
As your family grows, so do your responsibilities. Even if you’re just getting a cat or dog, you are now responsible for the health and welfare of another living being. When you have a baby, your life changes dramatically, and you typically aren’t trained for the challenge. You have to feel your way along, getting advice from others and trying different techniques that work for your situation. This is an incredibly exciting – and sleep-deprived – time of life. Take time to enjoy the journey, even if every second seems packed.
The fact is, not all relationships last. Maybe you figured that out before you got married, or after. Or maybe the love of your life passed on. No matter your situation, you’ll have a transition of getting used to being single again. Many people tend to jump right back into another relationship (that’s a short bridge indeed!). However, it’s okay and even preferable to take your time, focus on yourself and what you want, and then embark on a new relationship once you’ve had plenty of time to heal from the loss of the previous one.
Becoming an Elder
How did you get here so fast? A lifetime’s worth of wisdom, learned through experience, is now at your fingertips to pass on to a new generation. As you age, stay connected to your community, keep learning new things while teaching about the old ways, and stay positive. The younger generations are counting on your counsel, your strength and your wisdom as they navigate major stages in their lives.
Many articles in this section were adapted from WeRNative.org, a website for Native Youth by Native Youth