Ask Jigsaw: Am I wasting my youth | Advice for young people

Ask Jigsaw: Am I wasting my youth?

Ask Jigsaw: Am I wasting my youth?

Tuesday, 06 October 2020

Why do I feel like I am wasting my youth? My entire family has struggled with massive drug and alcohol addiction so I try to stay away from it, but it feels like I’m wasting my youth. I’m so afraid that I’m going to look back at this time in my life and be full of regret. 

-Elle

Hi Elle,  

Worrying about future regrets can have a big impact on the choices we make in the moment. The fear of regret can make us question even our strongest values.  

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Family patterns

Our family’s lifestyle often becomes our own, because it’s familiar and comfortable. However, witnessing how negative drug and alcohol use can be, acts as a strong motivator for doing things your own way.  It takes courage and strength to choose a different path.

Misconceptions

Growing up in a family that struggles with addiction means that you understand the full extent of how dangerous alcohol and drugs can be. While drug use is illegal, alcohol is not, which means that drinking is often advertised as a fun thing to do. 

Advertisers make money by suggesting that, in order to have fun or to embrace youth, you need to drink alcohol. Similarly with drugs, friends suggest the “fun” side of drugs, because they want others to join them.  

Advertisers and those engaged in a drug and alcohol use rarely broadcast the downsides. The truth is that using drugs and/or alcohol impacts our mental health. They can lead us to feeling hungover, low, anxious or lonely. As you have experienced, addiction can become a problem too. 

Ironically, it’s the negative effects of alcohol and drugs that are the most likely to stop people from making the most of their youth 

Emer
Jigsaw clinician
Rather than worrying about regrets, it can be useful to spend the time exploring your values and interests. Ask yourself what activities make you happy and who’s company you enjoy.

Fear of regret

It’s natural to ask whether we’ll be happy in the future with the choices we make now. However, rather than worrying about regrets, it can be useful to spend the time exploring your values and interests. Ask yourself what activities make you happy and who’s company you enjoy. Maybe consider the productive roles you have and how much satisfaction they bring you.

Focus on making goals for the future and actively working towards them. You might find that a determined plan helps you to focus on a positive future instead of worrying about what you might be missing.  

The most important thing is that you make decisions for the right reasons, not because of a social or cultural pressure to spend your youth a certain way.  

Take Care,

Emer

Jigsaw clinician

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