Wednesday, August 15 , 2018, 5:59 pm | Fair 77º

 
 
 
 
Teenagers

Louise Palanker: Feeling Pressure Over Sex, Betrayal, Superiority Complex

Question from Jade

I know you’re probably going to say that it’s normal and everyone matures at their own pace, but I’m 16 turning 17 and I’ve never kissed anyone. Most of my friends have had sex or at least kissed or hooked up with guys, but I haven’t done anything. I’m not really sure if I want to do those things, but it feels weird to not because everyone else is doing it?

Weezy

Nice predicting! I am going to say that it’s normal and that everyone matures at their own pace. From there I am going to go on to say that some people mature too quickly. You are not running a foot race. Sex is not a box you check that confirms you are keeping pace with your age group. In fact, quite the opposite.

Kids who hook up with someone they do not actually love just to say they did are displaying a certain lack of maturity. The more self esteem you possess, the less likely you will be to offer your body to just some dude because he and your girlfriends were urging you to go for it. That is pretty much the recipe for teen pregnancy.

You answered your own question in your own letter. You are not really sure if you want to do those things. So don’t. If anyone says word one to you about this, just respond with “I’ll know when I’m ready.” When you are with the right guy, the two of you will discuss your connection and decide what next level of intimacy is best for you. Kissing and sex are not something you do. They are something you share.

(Howcast video)

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Question from Elizabeth

I have a friend and we have been very close since fifth grade. We are juniors now and we didn’t really talk freshman year because we kind of drifted apart, and then we reunited again but my problem is that I always took advantage of our friendship. She was still there for me no matter what. All she wanted was to be my friend, and I let her down.

But I have told her how I feel. I apologized and she told me she forgave me, and she came over my house and we had the time of our lives like old times. But something tells me that she doesn’t forgive me all the way. She’s not being shady toward me or anything. She actually is acting the same and I am probably overthinking this, but I don’t wanna think like that. So any advice?

Weezy

Trust is earned over time. Renewed trust must be earned over even more time. You have named it. You have claimed it. You are a recovering selfish little brat. Carry on. In a minute or two, you will blossom into a fully realized worthy friend and spectacular person.

Prove who you are and who you are becoming through your words and actions. Remember, too, that you don’t just need forgiveness from this friend. You also need it from yourself.

You have apologized for the way you behaved when you were a child. Your friend accepts your apology. That is so impressive. Once you are fully grown, you will more greatly appreciate how young you were when you took advantage of this friend, and also how young you were when you recognized your error and made amends.

Rather then dwell on how selfish you were at 14, why not celebrate how brave and evolved you are at 16? You have come so far in working on yourself and on repairing this friendship. Kids have many different reasons for being cruel to each other, most of which can be traced to self preservation. What matters is that you have passed through that phase, learned from it and become a more compassionate and caring friend.

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Question from Emily

How do I cure my superiority complex?? I feel like I have to be better than all my friends. I have a much higher GPA than most of them and I always feel smug over that, but I really shouldn’t. I have bigger goals than they do, and maybe that’s why I feel like I have to be more than everything over them.

I always feel like I have to be better intellectually than all of them. It annoys me when they ask me what I got on a test, but sometimes they’ll get a higher grade then me and they’ll explicitly say “Oh my gosh, I got a higher grade than you!”

And with the ones I’m not smarter than, I feel like I have to be more conventionally attractive than or have better outfits than and be skinnier than them, which I am but not very healthily. I put so much effort into my appearance in an effort to be better than my peers. And when I survey them I always feel like I am better, but maybe that’s my superiority complex talking?

But it’s strange because I’ve never thought myself competitive, but I suppose I am? Maybe I’m overconfident? How do I stop this mindset? It’s furthering my anxiety and I feel like such an awful person, and I don’t know what to do.

Weezy

You are a wonderful person. How else would you be introspective enough to these questions?! However, as long as we’re here, I do think we need to shift your perspective more than a bit. It is instinctive to measure yourself against your peers to a certain degree, but you are pushing it. People who are the hardest on themselves tend to be the most judgmental of others, and both of those exercises can be exhausting.

Here’s the good news. There is plenty of space in the world for everyone who pursues excellence to excel. How could we possibly have too many great people?! Stop the comparison marathon! There will always be someone with whiter teeth or nicer sweaters or better posture. That person detracts nothing from all that is wonderful in you. Please know that you will never be the only star. Don’t pursue that goal. Instead, seek to shine within a glorious galaxy.

The more confident you are in your own strengths and capabilities, the more natural it will feel to celebrate the accomplishments of your friends. Your two most important attributes are your kindness and your work ethic. Be nice and do your best. Be kinder than you need to be. Try harder than you need to try. Focus on those goals.

Your friends’ achievements are no threat to you. In fact, they serve to enhance you because it’s a blessing to know someone who is doing well and to root her on.

Rather than pitting yourself against others, use your competitive edge to your advantage. Who can you encourage today? It is no great joy to excel unless you can share your victories with your loved ones, right? They need the same from you. Surround yourself with excellent people and be their biggest cheerleader. Life is a collaboration.

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Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She also hosts a weekly video podcast called Things I Found Online, and teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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