The way I see things is often different than the way the people in my life do. Of course, I'm always right. Remember that and we'll be okay. I was a pretty normal kid/teenager I'd say. Except for debilitating shyness as a child that somewhat improved over time then morphed into social anxiety disorder followed by general anxiety disorder then, to cap it all off, a champion panic disorder.. As in, by the time I was 25 I learned to speak up for myself but even then I still had social anxiety and a panic disorder so it's not like anything magically happened to make me want to be outspoken.
That shyness alone makes me realize when I look back how much I could have benefited from a therapist as a kid, teen, or even a tween.
Looking back it's odd to me that my parents probably never thought to send me to a therapist. When I say I had debilitating shyness throughout elementary, middle, and a good chunk of high school I mean I did not speak to anyone I wasn't friends with (and even around friends I was pretty quiet). I didn't raise my hand in class even though I knew the answers. I didn't volunteer to be group leader (ever), and I most certainly didn't know what to do with boys. I suspect my parents didn't realize the extent of this because at home I was loud and obnoxious, I fought with my siblings and I fought with them. But at large family functions I would often bring a book and just read instead of participating in the group fun a big family provides. Even in elementary school I would hide behind a book during free time in class and had I been given the choice, would have skipped my most hated and feared time of day -recess- to read by myself.
I have a very clear memory of my fourth grade teacher on several occasions having to call me to join the line after it was fully formed because I had been so deep in my book I didn't hear, see, or notice the whole class lining up for lunch or art or whatever. My fourth grade teacher thought my reading was cool and funny. He actually said I was his pick for the funniest kid in class based on my facial expressions which, to this day, give me away. I seriously cannot lie. My face won't let me.
Fast forward to middle/high school. Class presentations were absolutely horrifying for me. I believe it was my sixth grade social studies teacher who insisted upon oral presentations being given for a major grade in front of the entire class. I was totally screwed because 1) My parents had bought me high-top Reebok sneakers for basketball because I kept twisting my ankle, and 2) Those sneakers were leather and they squeaked like it was their freaking job. Humiliating. I had to stand in front of the class with my squeaky sneakers attempting to give a report about some country I cannot recall, and basically fail the stupid presentation because all I wanted was for it to be over and screw the grade
The list of examples is endless. I'm pretty sure a super dreamy popular guy tried to ask me to the homecoming dance in high school but he had a female friend who I found terrifyingly beautiful and intimidating try to bring it up to me in French class where I was already freaked out about having to work with both of them. She asked what kind of guy I would go to the dance with and if her friend was my type. To me that sounded like, You are so weird (I suspect I may have had Manic Panic Vampire Red hair at the time. Maybe? I was a wee alterna-teen after all). You are so uncool we can't even imagine what kind of guy you would go to a dance with and you are certainly not good enough to even look at this boy because we will mock you if you even think about it.
So naturally I froze, eventually managed to say No. Nope. I would not go to the dance with him or anyone like him.
Um...looking back on that I really hope I didn't scar that kid for life with my awkwardness. When I say debilitating shyness I am not kidding. This continued throughout college and even through my internship at Sony Music (Columbia, Epic Records mainly). I liked my internship a lot but hated the extreme extroversion required to make it in that business. Therefore I got a degree in music business that I had absolutely no desire to use. Luckily, that turned out to be okay. Phew.
I guess my point with all this is that you don't actually have to be mentally ill to benefit from having a therapist. If nothing else, a therapist's office can be a place to actually stop and reflect on what is going on in your life at any given moment. It forces us to examine ourselves, our family, friends, relationships etc. and actually notice what the hell is going on. In today's world we are inundated with things to do, places to go, Facebooks to update, pictures to tag, work, school, house, kids, shopping, money, sex, television, Words With Friends, illness, wellness, food....
Sometimes taking one hour out of your week or even your month, to stop and notice your life, is all you need to ensure you're not missing something. Sometimes all it really takes is for a kid to have an outlet they can hear and learn from without the baggage of it coming from mom or dad. I sure could have benefited from having someone tell me my input mattered, what I had to say or think was of substance and that speaking up may be risky but staying quiet keeps you stuck.