There are lots of things to think about if you want to become more independent as you get older. It’s a good idea to start trying things out while you are still with your family- cooking some food, doing your own laundry, opening a bank account.
- Where you want to live and who do you want to live with?
- What does an independent life look like to you?
- What relationships are important to you?
- What will fill your days?
Try looking at these aspects of an independent life and maybe choose one to start thinking about. It doesn’t matter if you are a teenager and planning ahead, or older and are now thinking that you might be ready to try branching out on your own.
Let’s start with you…..
The relationship with yourself is vital, and it’s an important connection to think about and look after.
How we treat ourselves, our self-esteem, affects how well we look after ourselves and our ability to build good resilience.
Luckily, there are lots of little things we can do that might improve self-esteem, including positive thinking.
Try positive thinking
Often our thoughts are automatic, and we do not notice them – but it can really help to tune into our thinking and check if it’s positive or negative.
If you find that your thoughts are negative or unhelpful, try challenging these and thinking more positively. It can really help build confidence.
It might not feel realistic to always think positively, so try finding neutral alternatives. For example, the negative thought, “I had lots to do and I‘ve done nothing. I’m useless”, can be turned into a neutral or realistic one, like: “Not every day can be good, but that’s OK because I can try again tomorrow.”
Over time, having this more balanced view can help you to build a healthier and happier relationship with yourself.
Do you have a good understanding of who you are and what you want?
It’s often a collection of our interests, experiences, characteristics, choices, values, and beliefs that show us who we are. Understanding these things about ourselves is what helps us to understand the complexity of our identity. Understanding who you are helps you to decide what you want and how you want your adult life to look.
Have you ever asked yourself these questions?
1. What lights me up?
2. What drains me?
3. What are the things that are most important to me in life?
4. Who are the people who are most important to me in life?
5. What stresses me out?
6. What is my definition of success?
7. What makes me angry?
8. What gets me out of bed in the morning?
9. What relaxes me?
10. What brings me joy?
11. What scares me?
12. What makes me curious?
13. What are my failures?
14. What keeps me awake at night?
15. What disappoints me?
16. What are my insecurities?
17. What do I want to learn?
18. What do I respect most about myself?
19. What are my regrets?
20. What am I good at?
21. What am I bad at?
22. What are my beliefs about myself?
23. What are my past hurts and pains?
24. What are my habits?
25. What do I envy?
Childhood is when we first start to develop a self-concept and form an identity. As children, we are highly dependent on our families for our physical and emotional needs. Our early interactions with family members play a critical role in the formation of our identities. During this stage, we learn about our families and communities, and what values are important to them.
Adolescence is a critical period of identity formation. As teenagers, we start to intentionally develop a sense of self based on how the values we’re learning show up in our relationships with ourselves, our friends, family members, and in different scenarios that challenge us. This is the period where we start to become independent and form life goals. It can also be a period of storm and stress, as we experience mood disruptions, challenge authority figures, and take risks as we try to work out who we are.
Adulthood– As adults, we begin building our public or professional identities and deepen our personal relationships.
The Importance of Identity
Having a strong sense of identity is important because it:
- Creates self-awareness
- Enables healthy relationships
- Keeps you grounded
- Improves decision-making
- Fosters community participation
Identity and the recognition that every young person’s identity is unique to them; is important in all social settings. Respect should be shown to individual differences, and we should explore and reflect our acceptance of others and seek to understand those differences.
Identity is made up of many unique characteristics, including (but not exclusively):
- Religion (or beliefs)
Some people will associate themselves strongly against one or all of these and this make up the unique makeup of all individuals.
“Neurodivergent” is not a diagnosis. It is not a term in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Instead, it is a way of thinking about other diagnoses.
Identifying as neurodivergent is a personal choice. If you have been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, or any of the other conditions previously listed, you may choose to identify as neurodivergent. Some experts include other mental illnesses on their list of neurodivergent conditions, such as anxiety or depression.
Since it is not an official diagnosis, there are no standards for who “counts” as neurodivergent and who does not. However, it’s important not to mislabel common human behaviours as “neurodivergent.” Forgetting things, making mistakes, misspeaking, not listening, feeling tired, wanting a break from socializing—these are all behaviours that everyone experiences from time to time.
Neurodiversity is the idea that cognitive variations are a form of diversity, not a disease or disorder. It’s the mindset from which terms like “neurodivergent” and “neurotypical” emerge.
Individuals are considered either neurodivergent or neurotypical. Groups that include both neurotypical and neurodivergent people can be called neurodiverse. Individuals alone cannot be called neurodiverse because diversity implies two or more different experiences.
There are lots of factors that define and shape who we are as people. One of these factors is our cultural identity, which can have a big influence on how we view the world and how we feel we fit into it. Connecting with your cultural identity can give you a real sense of belonging, and help you find your place in the world. But it can be confusing if you feel as though you don’t fit neatly into one culture. For example, if you have grown up in the UK but your family are from another country, you might feel a bit caught between these two cultures.
If your feelings of gender dysphoria began in childhood, you may now have a much clearer sense of your gender identity and how you want to deal with it.
However, you may also find out that the feelings you had at a younger age disappear over time and you feel at ease with your biological sex.
Or you may find you identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
The way gender dysphoria affects teenagers and adults is different to children.
You may feel:
- certain that your gender identity conflicts with your biological sex
- comfortable only when in the gender role of your preferred gender identity (may include non-binary)
- a strong desire to hide or be rid of physical signs of your biological sex, such as breasts or facial hair
- a strong dislike of the genitals of your biological sex
You may feel lonely or isolated from others. You may also face pressure from friends, classmates or workmates, or family to behave in a certain way. Or you may face bullying and harassment for being different.
Having or suppressing these feelings affects your emotional and psychological wellbeing.
Your experiences with your gender may affect your mental health. For some, this can be a confusing or difficult time, but it doesn’t always have to be this way.
Sexuality and sexual orientation is about who someone feels physically and emotionally attracted to. This can be romantic or emotional attraction, or both.
As children and young people grow up it’s natural for them develop and express their sexuality in healthy ways. For example, older teenagers might start dating or having relationships, while younger children might show curiosity about sex or the changes that happen during puberty. Many young people also feel unsure about their sexuality or who they’re attracted to, or find that their sexuality changes over time.
There are lots of different types of sexuality or sexual orientation, and young people may use different terms to describe how they feel. LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and more. Although people often confuse them, it’s important to remember that gender identity is different from sexuality.
Some of the terms young people and children might use to describe their sexuality are:
- Lesbian or gay: when girls are attracted to other girls.
- Gay or homosexual: when boys are attracted to other boys.
- Straight or heterosexual: when boys or girls are attracted to someone of the opposite sex.
- Bisexual: when someone is attracted to people of both sexes.
- Asexual: when someone doesn’t feel sexually attracted to anyone.
- Questioning: when someone feels unsure about their sexual orientation.
Coming out is when you tell someone else about your sexuality. It can help people to feel less isolated and more able to cope with their feelings. But it can also feel risky or unsafe. You can come out any time you feel comfortable, even if you’re still questioning or unsure about your sexuality. LGBTQ+ people usually don’t come out just once but will come out lots of times to lots of different people.