By Alicia Hayes, Speaker for niNe. magazine

StrugglesFor many of you, the “new year” may not begin on January 1st but on the first day of school. New classes, schedules, activities and possibly new struggles are starting in the fall. Some of these struggles may have to do with romantic relationships, new or old friendships, academic struggles or problems at home. Dealing with these things can make a new time in life, which is already stressful, incredibly difficult.

Understand that your struggles are unique, but there are always people who have gone through similar struggles who can help you. For instance, I had a Spanish teacher who thought that her students were arguing with her or disagreeing with her, but really, we were just confused and needed a little more clarity and explanation. Rather than helping her students, she would raise her voice in frustration because she felt as if her students were butting heads with her. This was a unique academic struggle, but I could always seek help from other people who had struggled with difficult, confusing teachers as well. Your struggles are important and unique but you’re not alone. Seek help from youth leaders, activity leaders, family members and guidance counselors to help you best resolve these struggles… no matter how big or small.

Seeking help not only resolves issues for the future, it can be incredibly affirming and comforting to find people who understand your problems. God says again and again that He’ll never leave us alone. One way that He prevents us from feeling isolated is by bringing people into our lives to ensure companionship and help. Do not isolate yourself in times like these. You’re not alone.

Though it’s important to find help and support, it’s also important to take time for yourself. It’s easy to avoid your struggles with busyness or noise. Hiding from your problems will not make them go away, and in fact it may make them worse. Taking time for yourself may force you to face your struggles head on. While in the comfort of your own, personal space, you can spend time talking to God about your issues, journaling about what’s bothering you or expressing your frustration in other healthy ways. God will use this time to reveal a lot of awesome solutions, or maybe even just remind you that He’s there, holding you up and protecting you from harm.

Now that the “newness” of the school year is wearing off, those struggles are still present. So, it’s time to face them head-on. Connect with people who understand, love and cherish you and spend time with God.