“That’s the thing that I wish all of us would have. We have the confidence to get out of our comfort zone.” This is what Gael, one of the speakers on the podcast “Teenager Therapy,” says to his friends in a recent episode titled “The Realities of Our Friendship.”
As usual, five young students share with each other their stories and opinions on some of the most common issues that concern teenagers these days, including peer pressure at school, worries about body image, the rules of dating and starting intimate relationships.
The podcast is filled with deep self-exploration and debates over the topics that people may not normally be willing to share openly. After following this podcast for months, I found it is more necessary than ever to remedy the increasing gap in communication among both teenagers and adults and the unprecedentedly high incidences of mental health-related issues.
As its name indicates, the “Teenager Therapy” podcast nurtures love and warmth in the hearts of its audience and guides them to think more critically about issues that affect today’s youth.
The conversations among these five young people encompass the most frequent problems that teens often anxiously discuss with their friends. Adolescence is a stage of life that is filled with complexities and confusion. As more is demanded of them, the problems confronted by young people surge in a relatively short time, all before they are mature enough to handle these thoughts and issues on their own.
Obviously, they need guidance. However, some topics, especially the ones that are more private, such as romantic love, parental pressure and sexuality, might be particularly hard to discuss openly.
The five young hosts of “Teenager Therapy” have stepped in to provide some guidance by discussing the most commonplace issues that their peers may also be facing in-depth and with absolute honesty and genuineness. “Teenager Therapy” provides a peer’s perspective to other young people, encouraging them to reflect on themselves and how they are coping with the worries that they all share in common.
For example, one of the speakers in the podcast shares about discovering his sexuality, coming to terms with the fact that he is gay and dealing with all the struggles he has had to overcome in life because of his identity. This speaker offers empathy and hope to listeners — his peers — who have experienced similar struggles. Hearing this speaker’s story may make those grappling with related issues know that they are not alone and hopefully feel validated.
In addition to broad topics such as sexuality, the “Teenager Therapy” podcast also encompasses some lesser-known subjects that are still highly significant for a teenager’s growth and progress.
In one particular episode, for instance, the five young hosts discuss a seemingly smaller but nonetheless important topic: How to cope with a teacher who belittles you. In a society filled with people of diverse backgrounds yet is still not sufficiently inclusive, it is important to understand how to adjust one’s attitude when facing hostility from the outside environment and learn to be resilient.
A topic like patronizing teachers not only helps relatively immature young people garner empathy from their peers in this podcast, but it also motivates these students to consider the ways in which they can learn and grow in the face of adverse circumstances.
Importantly, audience members hear these honest stories told from the perspective of a peer — someone very similar to themselves — which makes it easier for them to accept, trust, understand and digest this information.
In an age where the use of social media has become more prevalent, people at times feel anxious when bombarded by the “positivity” displayed on their preferred social media platforms. According to psychology research, happiness is “relative” rather than “absolute.” One’s life satisfaction depends on what they have relative to those in their social circle, and on what they could have rather than what they already had.
Social comparison is one of the vital sources of happiness. People are naturally more inclined to only share something positive with their peers — especially on social media platforms — in order to maintain a positive social perception. Thus, one’s happiness could be negatively impacted by this “positive” sharing.
“Teenager Therapy” is different because it discloses the most realistic aspects of these five young peoples’ lives and adjusts the “reference point” for happiness among its audience. The podcast has the potential to guide its audience to contemplate their life and issues in a more realistic manner, and thus improve their level of life satisfaction and happiness.
Furthermore, these podcasters provide us with a vivid example of how a healthy friendship should look. You can feel the level of honesty, sense of security, sincerity, trust and willingness to open up among these five young people. They share with each other about their lives — the ups and downs, joys and tears and all the struggles — without any reservation.
The podcasters listen patiently to one another and they show empathy toward each other when someone is feeling insecure and emotional. They laugh together and they cry together. They never judge when someone feels vulnerable and shares secrets that they might be reluctant to disclose. They always have each other’s backs, no matter what happens.
To live one’s life to the fullest, this level of bonding within one’s social network is critically important. This “social safety net” not only enables each of us to be more resilient when faced with adversity, but it also provides us with more courage when taking a risk or a venture. To realize satisfaction in our lives, what matters most is the quality of our social networks, rather than the quantity of its members.
Getting along with others and forming healthy relationships might not be naturally ingrained in all of us; we need to master this skill through socializing or through a channel like this podcast. The young hosts of “Teenager Therapy” teach all of us what a healthy and intimate social network might look like and encourages us to form similar ones in our own lives.
In “Teenager Therapy,” you can always find a story or someone you can easily relate to. Though the hosts might be physically distant, you can still feel the depth and strength of their friendship.