If you are between the ages of 13-17, there is a good chance that you’ve noticed some changes in your body since your last birthday. Perhaps you’ve sprouted several inches in height and are now the tallest kid in class. Or perhaps your friends did all of the growing and you now feel short next to them. You may have gained weight in unexpected places and wonder why your jeans no longer fit or you may have a ravenous appetite that never feels satisfied no matter how much eat. Either way, in light of these new changes to your body, you might be looking in the mirror and thinking one thing: Is this normal?

The Uniqueness of YOU

First of all, there is no one type of normal. Each one of us carries a different size, shape, hair color and unique look. The next time you go to the grocery store, take a look around. You’ll see tall people, short people, and people with broad shoulders, little feet, big stomachs, long fingers, stubby legs, and skinny arms … you get the idea. These unique qualities are what make you uniquely YOU! And that is worth celebrating.

Second, while you may have anticipated some of these physical changes in your body to happen, it doesn’t mean that you feel ready for them or understand why they are happening. Taking time to learn how your growing body works will teach you what to expect and empower you to appreciate it when it works well. It will also equip you to better recognize when something might be going wrong.

Rest assured that everything will balance out eventually, and most teenagers will adjust to their “new” body in due time. In this case, being different IS normal. And the best thing you can do is continue to educate yourself and ask questions just as you are right now.