Imagine waking up every day terrified to go to school because you are deathly afraid of what type of teasing your classmates are going to do to you. Imagine living in fear of what you are going to face every day in school. Imagine pretending to be sick because you don't want to go to the place where you are abused to no end. How about sitting in your room for hours crying until you are dehydrated because you are such sickening pain and misery? Sound familiar? Maybe some of you reading this can identify with what I'm talking about. Some of you may know someone who experiences this.
Growing up as a young teen in today's world is far from easy. I was one of those troubled teens. I had dreams of going to college and doing whatever I needed to do to make a difference in the world. I loved people and working with children. I loved to act, sing, dance and write, and be happy, but my happiness was all deeply smothered in a layer of teenage verbal abuse from my peers.
It was a struggle that challenged my self-esteem and my strongly instilled values. I was made fun of for not having the right clothes, the right hairstyle, being too skinny, and anything I did whether I was talented or not, was met with rejection and sarcastic remarks. At the time, I thought that my problem was an uncommon situation. Now at the age of 25, I realize peer pressure affects millions of teens everyday. Teens are having to deal with rejection on every level, and because most view this teasing as their own fault, turn to dangerous methods of escape----drugs, promiscuous sex, anorexia/bulimia and even mass murder (remember Columbine)! This issue is growing at alarming and epidemic proportions. We need to take off our blinders and realize we have a serious problem.
So what are these young teens plagued with these traumatic experiences to do? Suffer in silence? This is where my success story comes in. At sixteen, my mother bought me my first pair of ten-pound weights. I had taken up the idea of weight training as a hobby. Most of my reading was of fitness magazines and enjoying all the inspirational stories of the women who changed their life through exercise, so I tried it. I had also taken up a body-sculpting class at a local library so that I could meet new people and learn how to use the proper form and technique.
Before long, I had mastered a variety of exercises that I could do with my pair of weights. All of these exercises helped me learn to relax, focus, and feel good about myself, which was something that I had not felt for a very long time. Every day I made it my business to pick up those weights and have a good workout. I would come away feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the world. I found myself no longer afraid to go to school and fearless to be who I was, and feel good about it. The teasing was no longer a threat, and I was no longer a victim. I set myself free.
I decided that this life-changing experience would help others. So, I became a certified personal trainer at 19. I became a two-time gold medal weight lifting champion at my college. I have worked with troubled children and teens, disabled people, and all types of people with special needs. I am returning to school in the spring for further education in the field of fitness. I studied psychology at Saint Joseph's College in which I earned a bachelor's degree. I focused on child psychology and development, adolescent psychology and chemistry of nutrition. My studies cumulated with a 40-page thesis on the psychological effects of exercise on depression, self-esteem, and drug abuse. I have come to believe that the health benefits of exercise provides the solution to the teenage struggle.
Whether the teen is the victim or the cause of pain, I feel that if more teens took up exercise as a hobby, their self-esteem would improve, they'd focus more on their studies, and they'd feel better about their bodies because consistent exercise brings results. I do not think it's entirely the teenager's fault for making bad choices. It's lack of education. We need to educate teens more on the benefits of exercise and eating right. We cannot rely on the media either as the media gives us a distorted image of what beautiful is. Too many young girls are trying to emulate women who aren't even real. Photos of models in magazines are airbrushed and altered by computer graphics. Without the proper guidance, teen disempowerment will only continue to get worse.
I am now an aspiring fitness model and motivational speaker. I will be training for my first figure competition in 2006. I have also recently met with another very inspiring woman, Stacy Moutafis who was recently featured on the cover of New Living Magazine. She has helped strengthen my confidence to go ahead and do the right thing - to help others overcome limiting external and internal pressures caused by peer pressure.
Jacklyn Aschauer is a personal trainer at Ultimate Fitness in Patchogue, NY, and is a 2x gold medal weight-lifting champion. She is available for personal training consultations, group lectures, personal coaching, and nutritional counseling for everyone especially teens. If you have a troubled teen or are a troubled teen, she can help. She can be reached at Sportage2005EX@aol.com or by calling(631) 645-4957.