2. Two Types of Journeys for Teenagers

A life is made up of a number of heroic journeys that occur over the course of that life. The big difference for teenagers is that there are often two types of journey going on at the same time. Fortunately, the heroic journey explains both kinds of journey.

"Normal Developmental Tests"

One type of journey is the natural developmental journey of leaving childhood, discovering how to be a young adult and dealing with the extended period of “inbetweenity” where you have sort of left childhood, but have not yet mastered being a young adult. That takes years and is the basic story of adolescence.

The developmental heroic journey for teenagers is the journey on which you meet the three big challenges and develop your identity, learn to form strong relationships and build the set of competencies required to be a successful young adult.

You will also be challenged to become the author of your life, giving up the dependence of childhood and accepting the responsibility of adulthood. Again, this happens because you are a teenager and you are ready for the challenge.

Situational Challenges

The other type of journey is what can be called “situational journeys” (mini-journeys), which are journeys that happen because of a specific event. That event can be anything from a move to a new community or taking on a leadership role to a rape or a serious illness. Most teenagers will experience several of these situational journeys to go along with the longer developmental journey.


Common Teen Situational Journeys 

There are a stunning number of these situational challenges that can come into your life and test you.  They will call you, lure you or throw you out of your normal world into a journey of change.  Sometimes these journeys begin as the result of a blunder, for example getting arrested.  Remember that these tests are the experiences in which you develop – in which you learn how to become the author of a life and discover who you are.

“Negative” Teen Situational Journeys

Some of these negative challenges will occur in every teenager’s life and sometimes they pile up.

  • Moves (be good or bad)
  • Deaths—of family or friends or colleagues or neighbors or schoolmates
  • Divorces and separations of parents
  • Injuries and illnesses
  • Break-ups of relationships
  • Abuse
  • Addiction
  • Pregnancy
  • Failure in school
  • Arrests

“Positive” Teen Situational Journeys

Not all of these challenges are the result of something “bad” happening. Good things can also happen that present you with mini-heroic journeys:

  • Making a team or performing arts group
  • Being named a team captain or president of a club
  • Being accepted into an honors program or elite school
  • Becoming part of a blended family if your parent remarries
  • Getting a major part in a performance

As an Adult

As adults you will also experience lots of situational journeys as well as developmental journeys that happen as you progress through life. Below are just some of the journeys you might encounter as an adult. Obviously, what you learn as a teenager about these journeys of change will prepare you for your adult journeys.

Adult Developmental Journeys
There are adult developmental challenges also, so this pattern will continue throughout life. For example:

  • Establishing a career
  • Marriage
  • Having kids
  • Middle age
  • Retirement

Adult developmental challenges differ from those of the teenage years because they are rarely as wide-ranging or intense and usually don’t last as long.

Adult Situational Journeys
Situational challenges will also be a part of adult life, including:

  • Career change
  • Job loss
  • Financial loss
  • New job/role/promotion
  • Divorce
  • Illness/injury
  • Addiction
  • Being victimized
  • Death of a family member or close friend
  • Starting a business
  • Moving to a new community


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