Most of us would agree that it is important to have people in your lives who genuinely care about you and who are there through the good times and the bad. These are the people who make up your social support system. Beyond sharing the fun times, there are many benefits to having supportive relationships, such as knowing people who can provide you with information and advice in times of uncertainty. This can be comforting and enhance your mind. A strong social support system is imperative for teens to be successful in life. Let’s face it: Life is tough for teenagers, and that can sometimes make it difficult to set and achieve goals. Social support systems can play a protective role and not only help reduce stress but also provide encouragement for your plans. It is also important to have multiple levels of support, from different people. If you have only one person supporting you through difficult times, you may wear that person out or feel unsupported if that person is unavailable. It’s essential to have moral guidance and strong leadership around you so that you can live up to your potential.
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A 17-year-old girl named Mary from Boston says she sees jealousy every day. She herself is a victim of it, she says. A friend of hers was so jealous of her that she copied everything she did. She bought the same clothes, same electronics, same accessories. “Having someone be jealous of you is not a good thing all the time,” says Mary, whose last name and neighborhood are being withheld to protect her privacy. “It’s getting a bit too much where it makes me mad at her.” As much as Mary tried to avoid the girl, she often found a way to end up where Mary was. “When I tell people about her, all everyone says is that I should take it as a compliment,”says Mary. “I did at the beginning, but after a year or two it gets old.” She and Mary used to be best friends until the jealousy got out of hand. “Enough was enough,” says Mary. “I couldn’t take it any longer. A friend shouldn’t copy you. They should be unique and pick things out that they like -- not what someone else likes. That’s not right.” Mary says their relationship eventually revolved around her friend trying to be Mary. “I needed time away from her,” says Mary. “To this day, it’s been six months without speaking to her.”
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Society nowadays is really hypocritical. There is no way to please anybody. Anything you do is a problem in someone’s eyes. That includes backstabbers, cheaters, trash-talkers, heart-breakers, and two-faced liars. Backstabbers and two-faced liars? They make you wonder who’s your real friend and who’s telling lies. Trash-talkers? They are at every corner, paying attention to everything you do. The way you walk, the way you talk, the way you dress. If you don’t have what they have -- a new pair of Jordans or TOMS– you’re nothing. You’re so easily judged, no questions asked. They claim it’s just being “honest,” but putting people down doesn’t make you a better person. Also, there’s the old double standard. When a girl messes up, she is badmouthed. If a boy does it, people think that it’s OK to cheat -- and break someone’s heart, too. But here’s a reality check: If you have someone who treats you right, appreciate that person. Don’t be quick to comment on something that you can’t possibly understand. Just because society is ugly doesn’t mean you have to be.
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I believe that religion is freedom. Religion starts with the burden of lost souls. No matter who or what you believe in as your God, someone will always help you realize that you can’t do anything without a leader. Religion does not just come with a God or a Bible. It also comes with morals. Religion is not only about the fundamentals of life, but it is the path one takes when life is at its lowest point. People always say: “There’s not a human being you can trust.” That’s when faith steps in. You always have that one spark when you feel you need something to complete you. Tribal conflict is not caused by religion. It is the ignorance that one portrays because of insecurity and the lack of love. Those who make religion a façade will never hurt the ones who truly believe. You can always know true believers when you meet them. What they tell you is what you believe and what you believe is what you see. Faith is not a destructive force. It is the tranquil force that takes away the brazen attitude of ignominy that people may carry. You may have had a broken day, but your soul is what determines if you stay strong. Religion is not chains. It is freedom.
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I believe in freedom of religion. The problem is born when people’s beliefs impair their common sense. It’s born when they no longer listen to reason, because they’re busy shouting the way of God. The problem is born when living by a book becomes no life at all. Humans grow by nature. We are made to expand. One of the five senses we were blessed with, if you will, is listening. It’s debatably the most important because only by listening do we learn new things. One Sunday a few years back I was in a religious institution. About halfway through a talk, I started really listening. The speaker was declaring with unfailing certainty that those who did not believe in God were blind. That science had ruined the faithful and destroyed belief. This man’s idea of truth was, apparently, God. What enraged me most was this man’s self-assurance. Who was he, or anyone for that matter, to tell others they were wrong? The problem with belief is that it often impairs our objectivity. Some people have asked why anyone has a problem with religion. “They’re not hurting anyone” is often thrown around. False. Religion has caused endless wars, mass murders, and acts of hatred since its inception, however long ago. Scandal devours its leaders and dishonesty clings to its pedestals. Ill intentioned individuals have been hiding behind the gilded veil of religion for centuries. It’s not every day we dissect our religion. Most people never do. Faith becomes a destructive force when its followers are blinded to the realities of the institution. Accept and believe with an open heart if you so wish, but don’t accept corruption or foist your beliefs onto others. It shouldn’t have to be a package deal.
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