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Navigating your way through youth

Growing up isn’t easy. With every year that passes me by, I inch closer and closer to the inevitable: the fact that one day, I’ll have to file my own taxes. Teenagehood is a tumultuous time, when we grapple with self-identity, learning more and faster than we ever have before, and somehow it feels like the consequences of messing up only seem to grow. No longer protected by the naivety of childhood, yet lacking in the experience that comes with adulthood, teenagehood has been a time when I've felt stuck. I’m the most knowledgeable I've ever been in my life, but with each new thing I learn, I feel like I only have more questions. Who am I? What do I want to do in the future? Who do I hope to be?

“You’ll understand when you’re older.” To date, I think that’s one of the biggest scams I’ve bought into. Surely this can’t be the same teenagehood that all the cool young adult fantasy writers write about in the stories I read as a child? Surely this can’t be the halcyon youth that so many adults reminisce about? In short, being a teen — well, it’s interesting, to say the least.

Despite all this change, one thing that stays steady and steadfast through all the moments of tumult is the church, the Christian faith. It is my steadfast belief that whatever may come, whatever mistake we make, the church and the Father will always be there. No matter if your journey isn’t always easy, no matter if belief sometimes comes with fear, God the Father is always there, a moment away in prayer. That sense of protection that comes with knowing that an all-powerful, all-knowing God has your best interests at heart and accepts you for all your mistakes and flaws, is a freeing one. Mistakes happen, especially in a time when you barely know what you yourself are doing, and being secure in the knowledge that God knows and still loves you has been and still is one of the grounding things in my life throughout all these years. Being accepted for who you are and loved unconditionally gives you room to grow, room to build your own relationship with God, building on the foundations set in childhood.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

True to His word, one thing that makes this exploration of personhood easier through the years is God and the faith. Having guiding principles on which to build an identity and a set of values is instrumental in growing. It certainly doesn’t mean that just because one believes, all is fine and dandy in teenagehood, but at times when your yet-undeveloped sense of self fails you, you can always, always run back to God and find guidance and solace in Him. Part of that solace, for me, has always been in the community of the church. I am blessed to have met and bonded with people to guide and accompany me on my walk, people in whom I can trust and find comfort. Friends and mentors are an irreplaceable part of any teen’s life, and all the better if you share the same guiding beliefs. Now, I wonder, where better to find such a friend than in church?

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

Some parting words to the incoming youth: don’t worry, it’s not too bad on the other end. If you ever feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t have it all figured out, don’t worry, I don’t either. And to the outgoing youth: let’s have fun with our impending taxes.

- Yeo Soon Ping

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