girl hanging picture on hook on wall

How Strong Is Your Hook?

Speaking to students at Georgia Southern University about the strength of their hooks.

About seven family members rushed into my cousin’s dorm room after her graduation ceremony to clear it out for a final university inspection. I assigned myself to taking down pictures of pop stars and inspirational quote posters from her walls.

My cousin used self-adhesive hooks to help decorate her space, and I was trying my best to take down only the pictures and hooks – not the layers of paint that had accumulated on the walls from every move-out that had ever happened. But, my series of hard, yet careful tugs produced zero progress. The hooks weren’t coming off. What came to me, instead, was a moment of clarity that has left me asking youth: how strong is your hook?

The Hook

A youth’s internal resources – confidence, competence and cause – act like a self-adhesive hook commonly used to hang a picture.

If the resources are strong, they will help youth stand up against a threat, or wall, on one side and support the weight of a goal, or picture, on the other. This places internal resources at the center of every courageous pursuit, and the central position signifies their importance. However, they don’t always get the attention they need. Youth can get so wrapped up in their fears or their dreams that they  allow their internal resources go unnoticed.

Key internal resources that courage requires are:
Competence: ability that develops from successfully doing something over and over
Confidence: trust in abilities and strengths
Cause: motivation behind an action

The Wall

Challenges youth face can take on the characteristics of a wall – unscalable, immovable, inpenetrable – and can produce a daunting amount of fear. That fear convinces youth to turn and flee unless they have developed a strong hook that will help them stick with their challenges.  Youth will come up against obstacles, or walls, in varying forms throughout adolescents into adulthood, and the way in which youth perceive themselves and the worthiness of what they’re doing will determine how resistant those walls will be.

The Picture

The grandeur of a youth’s picture for their future and the heft of their goals should match the reliability of their skills and strength of their purpose. A hook that has only been developed to support 20 lbs cannot bear the weight of a 80 lb dream and all of the trials, setbacks and fear that accompanies it. An attempt to withstand the extra pressure would result in a hook that gives out and a picture that crashes down.

The Takeaway

Hanging a picture on a wall requires, more than anything, a strong hook to stick against a wall and withstand the weight of a picture.  Youth’s internal resources are their hook. When their resources are strong, they can stand up against their walls of fear and support the mightiness of their pictures of the future. 

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