Scott Schimmel 0:00
Hey, welcome back to another episode of The YouSchool podcast. I'm Scott Schimmel your host and today what we're talking about is a bit more, I'd say, serious about what it looks like to help kids grow up well. And if you've heard me talk before, you probably heard me say this, the teenage years are all about identity formation. That's what, that's what all the big experts are, I'm looking at books, from social science, neuroscience, child development, adult development, they all really say the same thing. And we know it an implicit level. Teenage years are about figuring out who you are, and how you fit in this world. The problem is, teenagers try to figure out who they are, try to go about doing that in really unhelpful and predictive ways. They know that they're gonna get kicked out of the nest, at some point pretty soon. So they need to figure out a new tribe to belong to; this is kind of evolutionary biology, in a nutshell. And so what they're looking for is acceptance- acceptance into a new tribe. And acceptance, by and large, the way you do that, to a teenager is by fitting in and fitting in is mirroring back what you see. You're trying to fit into the tribe of people that you want to belong to, you feel like they're going to give you the best opportunity to survive in the future. And fitting in is also in its worst form is about denying yourself, it's about blending in. Trying to mirror and adopt and adapt to what you perceive they quote unquote, "they" care about, who "they" are, what "they" look like, sound like. care about, prioritize. And in that identity formation, especially in those, in that kind of mode, you get set up for, unfortunately, false identities. Now, if I don't know who I am, and I'm trying to figure it out, and it feels threatening, it feels dangerous, because I might not fit in somewhere, in that danger in that sort of threat response, people will typically take the path of least resistance,. They'll take whatever seems, kids will take kind of whatever they can grab on to, to find an identity, find an identity that matters and the big ones out in the world, this is where we're getting into philosophy and sociology, the big identities that you can belong to, or you can kind of latch on to, number one would be this, if you are okay, you are good, you are valuable if you have a lot. And I have a lot so a teenager can be have a lot of friends, have a lot of followers, have a lot of opportunities. Later on in later years, it probably be possessions or money. It's security, it's finding your security in what you have. I have accolades. I have awards. I have a GPA. I have college acceptances, I have requests to go here, or there being recruited, if you can get so that's the path, the path of achievement, the path of accomplishment. And you can actually feel pretty safe and secure, if you can get those things. So that's one. Another one would be to get the affection and admiration of others, you're going to be okay, if people like you. It's not necessarily everybody who likes you, but it's your group, the group of people that you care about, it's getting their opinion to be high of you. And so you go to great odds and great lengths to fit in, to be admired, to get affection from people. And maybe that's romantic affection, maybe that's just friendship, acceptance. And obviously, social media can distort that to a huge degree. So have more, get more people to like you. And then do more, do more would be to be powerful, and be in control. So you might see somebody a kid who is, is really doing a lot in terms of their schedules, trying to do everything. And it can be really confusing because kids who do a lot look responsible, ahead of schedule, mature, taking ownership, and yet deep down what you can if you're thinking through a psychological lens, you can see that their pursuits of fitting into this world, it might lead them to a place of burnout or dissatisfaction, or many, many, many people who go down this success path eventually get there and say what was this for? It lacks meaning, it lacks depth. It's not who I am. We don't want kids to pursue false identities. So what do we do? Well, this is the path. This is the complexity of this particular episode, we help mirror back to kids and create the environment for them to discover who they really are. Their real identity. We are mirrors, we acknowledge, affirm, compliment, and correct. So helping a kid see themselves clearly is, in other words, helping them grow in self awareness, how you're uniquely wired, who you are, how you stand out from others, and that's a mixture of your preferences, your personality, your talents, your strengths, your challenges, your weaknesses, your your particular like route for solving problems. It's, it's helping them become more, more aware. Now one part, we can see it in them, we can see who they are and who they're not. But it's the exchange of that it's helping them explore who they are, understand who they are, own it, embrace it, all the all the positives and the negatives. That's how you help a kid construct a real identity. This is who I am. So fitting in is about maybe blending in, letting go of what you want, so that you are perceived to be in, you know, in the crowd. And it's, it's a necessary, it's a necessary and healthy thing to do. But if that's all you do, that's all somebody does, and we all probably all know, people of adult age who are still doing that, you're gonna it's not gonna work for you for, the for the long term. So to move from fitting in to actually standing out is the movement we want kids to be able to make, that can start happening in middle school and high school. And likely though it's going to really form later in the teenage years, maybe in the college years and early career. But the more we model. model that... be authentic, be honest about ourselves. And the more we mirror and affirm and speak truth to people in love, and of course, the better they're going to be able to embrace their real identity. Ultimately, real identity is coming to a place of surrendered humility, and humility in its best form, is one part, gosh, I do have some weaknesses, gosh, I don't have all the things that I wish I had. But humility is also the "and" part. And I'm also good at these things. And I'm also unique, and I also bring this value. So that's the movements, creating a false identity to actually coming up confronting your real identity. But that's not all, this is the good part. We also help guide them to their true identity. Now, their true identity is much more about their potential, about who they can become, it's about the ingredients of who they are. It's about their talents and talent is potential. Strengths, are you in my mind, the definition of strengths would be you've done this, you're proficient at it, it's something you can consistently do at a high level, but talent is about potential. So what is that kid's talent? And what are the talents in that kid? In other words, who could they become, and it's, you know, if you just look at a career lens, that's, that's limiting, we want to look at them and always, and help them explore their potential through a very positive lens. This is not false hope. This is not Hallmark philosophy- you can be anything you can do anything. This is actually looking through the lens of real, who they are, but with the sense of "and this is who you could become if you if you embrace who you are, and lean into it, and pay attention to where you are curious". To pay attention to where you're drawn. If you lean into learning and growth and surrender, and strive to become better and more honed into who you are, imagine what you could become. So this is why some of those messages to kids like assemblies and pep talks fall short, because they're living in the world of false identity.
They don't know another way, no one's guided them to really experience their real identity. And we start saying things like you can do anything. You can be anybody. The world's your oyster. Your future's so bright. And they're like, no, no, I'm actually just in survival mode trying to fit in. So the the necessary step is to help them come into awareness, self-awareness of who they are and who they're not. I mean, how's this for kind of deep stuff? If you're tracking, I would love to hear your thoughts. This is the core of what we're trying to do with kids. This is the stuff that I wish I was guided through. This is the conversation that I'm still having with myself into my 40s. And I believe that the way we do this with kids best is by also leaning into this for for us. Chances are you didn't get the guidance that you needed to confront your false identities, become aware and honest with your real identity, who you really are. And chances are, you didn't have people come alongside you to help you explore your true identity who you could become. And so the work that we do, the inner work that we do as adults, parents, teachers, coaches, actually gives us the capacity to do this kind of work with kids, because nothing else will trigger your false identity. Being around teenagers, they're going to, they're going to break you down, they're going to make you mad, frustrated, they're going to make you wonder if you have what it takes, they're going to remind you that you don't... That you have limits. I mean, they're, they're going to trigger and in amazing ways, tell you and speak directly to your false identity and trigger that. The only way to work with teenagers is for us to live and abide in our true identity. And when we do, we can stay centered and focused and courageously, confidently, clearly call them into who they're turning into. So again, how's this for a little dash of intensity? I'd love to hear your thoughts. How do you help kids confront their false identities, embrace their real and move towards their true? Comment below. Send me a note. I want to hear I want to know- that's this episode. See you next week for another episode of the school podcast. Hey, thanks for joining in on The YouSchool podcast, we'd love to share with you the resources available on our website at theyouschool.com not just articles, ebooks, worksheets and other podcast episodes. But specifically you should know about a free course we have available called The Real Me course. It's digital, it's interactive, and it'll guide you to get clear about who you are in the great story you could tell with your life. So go register for a free account and get started on The Real Me course today at theyouschool.com That's the you school dot com.