Your Right to Boundaries

Boundary /bau̇n-d(ə-)rē/ noun: something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent 


Being a teenager is something that is often overlooked. Our hardships are often scoffed at by adults; we have no bills to pay, jobs, kids, or families to worry about. School apparently isn’t enough to stress one out to the point of a mental breakdown. 

30% of teens had a job from the ages of sixteen to nineteen in 2020. Although not a large percentage of teens have jobs according to this statistic, everyone goes home to a different household with different circumstances. Many students go home to do chores, babysit younger siblings, play sports, or take care of even older family members that they have to be mindful of due to health issues or simply old age. 

Among these various roles are teenagers who want to be kids before they graduate and are introduced to Adult Life. Teens who want to make new friends and start a relationship or end old relationships, all of which to be healthy, need well-set boundaries. In elementary school children are told to “keep your hands and feet to yourself” and say “what you said really hurt my feelings,” but there are no explicit instructions on how to create boundaries. 

Saying “No” to someone was not considered cool and oftentimes ended up with you being laughed at and being called “extra”– it wasn’t worth the embarrassment. So when entering high school and seeing all the possibilities of relationships (platonic and romantic) it is helpful for teens  to be educated on what boundaries are for you personally and for others. 

Physically children tend to resort to using their hands and feet to speak for themselves. Hitting, pushing, screaming, and throwing tantrums were the most likely responses to “big emotions.” At that age, using physical means seemed like the only way to express distress at feeling those overwhelming emotions. However, as children mature into teenagers there is a whole new world introduced physically, romantically, emotionally, and intellectually. 

Now, boundaries are things that can be fixed or flexible. Boundaries can change as you experience different things, but it is also okay for them to stay the same.

Both physical and romantic boundaries overlap often and in high school. It is important to discover how to navigate these boundaries, how to distinguish between the two and how to adjust accordingly. Regarding romantic relationships and the boundaries that can become physical such as public displays of affection, or more intimate things — some people would rather be affectionate in private settings without the eyes of strangers watching them. Others may feel comfortable displaying their affection in public, but remember these can be spectrums of things that you feel comfortable doing. 

Now one of the many things that are often overlooked are how interactions with others make people feel. Emotions can either be your enemy or your best friend, all depending on your ability to recognize and process your emotions. Where you emotionally set the pace for any relationship, setting your boundaries early will set expectations. If something bothers you for more than twenty-four hours, address it! It’s not going to be resolved magically because you hope someone will read your mind and stop the action that is bothering you. 

It is very common for people to feel nervous about setting their boundaries. There are always worries that others won’t respect you and the boundaries that you set, but if they don’t respect your boundaries, then they do not respect you. Boundaries are simply a way of protecting yourself, and there is no reason to be ashamed of these things nor should you ever allow anyone, no matter who they are, to shame you for your comforts and discomforts. 

As someone who has experienced a violation of their boundaries it is scary to speak up. To even address that someone has disrespected and violated you, your body, and your thoughts is a fight that many people don’t feel strong enough to go through. Going about accepting it is even harder. There is no fault in speaking to a trusted adult, friend, or a family member and getting the situation addressed and resolved. There is also nothing wrong with ending a relationship no matter how long or short that relationship was if it would make yourself feel safer within yourself and the environment you are in. 

Once you are able to recognize your boundaries it becomes increasingly easier to speak up. It is always within your rights to say “No.” No matter the circumstances or situation, “No” is always a full sentence. 

Understand that it takes time and practice to search yourself and realize what exactly your boundaries are. There is no time limit to these things. Just remember that there are so many people that will stand with you and support you in this journey. You just have to start.