The #1 Person You Should Talk to This Holiday Season

Teenagers, they're just like you, but decades ago. 
Teenagers, they’re just like you, but decades ago.

Every month, I send out a Hey Eleanor challenge (you can sign up here). I think it’s important to practice living outside your comfort zone, and each week’s email asks subscribers to try to incorporate a little Hey Eleanor-inspired activity into their everyday life.

This week’s challenge felt important to share with a broader audience. As you gather with friends and family this holiday season, please keep this idea in the back of your mind. Trust me, it’s something you can squeeze in between downing mugs of egg nog and shoveling cookies into your face. Just try to wipe away the crumbs first .

* * *

Remember junior high? I do.

It was very exciting.

You got your own locker! Gossip! More challenging classes (< nerd alert)! And so many new boys!

I also remember it being awful.

I hit puberty the day before seventh grade and gained 40 pounds in, like, three seconds. I got giant zits; wore ill-fitting clothes from Contempo and Goodwill, convinced I looked like a Shirley Manson/Drew Barrymore mashup; and believed ‘being loud’ was the best way to get boys to like me.

It’s a weird time for any kid.

Fortunately, I had great friends, a supportive family and an emotional intelligence that always made me feel like I was worth something and things would get better, no matter what happened.

A lot of teenagers don’t have that.

I’m reminded of a story of friend of mine recently shared. As a teen, he didn’t have a lot of support at home. He felt useless and unloved, and truly believed no one would miss him if he were gone. So, he went to his room one night, took a bunch of Advil (or something OTC), and laid down, believing he wouldn’t wake up. He did. His parents never knew. Aunts, uncles, friends… no one knew. He’s one lucky SOB, because the intention was real.

Heartbreaking, right?

I’ve been thinking about this challenge for quite some time, and the holidays is the perfect opportunity to ask all of you to reach out to a teenager/young person. You’re probably getting together with family, and there’s probably someone between the ages of 12 – 18 (or hey, even someone in their late teens, early 20s!) who needs a reminder that they’re loved, and that life gets better.

You don’t need to get all serious. Just take some time to sit down and ask them how they’re doing. Maybe have them help you with a holiday task, or if they seem receptive, ask them to do something with you during the holiday break.

I double-dog dare you.

So here’s your Hey Eleanor challenge: Talk to a teenager you care about. Even if it seems like they hate your guts, they won’t stop looking at their phone or you feel like they aren’t listening.

If you want, share a little about the experience on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #HeyEleanor. (Change names to protect the innocent! Or whatever.)

Smile ’cause you just practiced living outside your comfort zone & it feels real good.

* * *

PS A few holiday-related posts: the classiest no-bake Christmas treat recipe, 2014’s holiday capsule wardrobe, + our Christmas card from last year.

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Comments (2)

  • Kathleen Anderson 2 years ago Reply

    Hi Molly! Thanks for posting this. Adolescence is a crazy difficult time and a little love and understanding goes a long way. Whenever I’m working with new mentors (and some parents), I always challenge them to remember their middle school and high school years and if they’d like to go back there. Many respond that you couldn’t pay them – and I agree! It’s a helpful reminder of how tough that period is, especially when teens are being difficult, bratty, know-it-alls, ungrateful or otherwise attached to their phones. I work with arguably some of the toughest kids in NYC, adolescents who are facing myriad challenges beyond the difficult developmental stage, and I find them almost all to be like putty in my hands when shown a little love, respect, and empathy. Some tips for those taking on the challenge: don’t ask them about college (unless they volunteer it). Most teens love talking about their friends, their celebrity crush, what they do outside of school, and general icebreaker questions. Games are great for taking some of the pressure off of talking, but still spending time together. Our teenage cousins are OBSESSED with Salad Bowl, btw 🙂

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    Being a teenager, while fun at times, was the worst. I don’t even think you can grasp just how awkward/fragile it is until you’re an adult, and then it’s like HOW DID I MAKE IT THIS FAR? I like your tips about what to talk about. Obvious when you say it, but I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of those things.

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