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Adolescent psychologist, Angela Karanja: My Best Life in 10 answers

Adolescent Psychologist Angela Karanja helps parents raise highly effective teenagers.

She holds a MSc in Applied Psychology from the University of Bedfordshire and does research into Children and Young People’s wellbeing, among other things.

1. What has been your Best Life Project to date?

Setting up the Raising Remarkable Teenagers movement. Being able to empower parents to have peaceful and harmonious relationships with their teenagers by using specific strategies that influence teenagers to trust their parents, open up and actually want to listen.

2. The unknown … what challenges did you have to overcome?

Coming from a terribly impoverished background in a remote village in Kenya, I have had to overcome significant challenges to stay alive. Living in an environment where you are unheard and unseen and having to walk miles and miles to go to school, often on an empty tummy yet I showed up to class regardless. At first, I didn’t even know what the point was of going to school, but it was better than the hard work at home in the farm.

When I observed a trend of teen and parents’ relationships breakdown, this was really concerning, in fact, it hurt me so much. When I recognised this disconnection as the reason our teens are becoming vulnerable and being targeted for sex, crime, drugs exploitation and mental health problems, I just could not sit and do nothing, I had to spring into action.

I started the Raising Remarkable Teenagers Movement while still employed by the local authority which was such a challenge. However, my years of working with young people has given me immense experience, knowledge and expertise working in this field.

And it has been so worth it. Seeing the transformation in family dynamics, nothing compares with this to me.

3. In hindsight…..what would you do differently?

I should have started this mission 5 or 6 years ago.

A best life moment at my 40th

4. Next steps?

To grow this movement to be the go-to place where every parent of teen can access and learn genuine research-based strategies specific for parenting teenagers.

Where parents or teens are inspired to take practical actions; because action is the ignition that turns information into transformation.

Where parents of teens feel safe and supported.

5. From lockdown ……what lifestyle changes has lockdown made you consider?

I don’t have to go clothes and shoe shopping every Saturday. How I missed this in the early days of lockdown. It was like having addiction withdrawal symptoms. I loved that touching and trying clothes. I learnt some of the things we think we can’t do without we so can do without! It has taught me to go minimalistic.

6. Kissing frogs …. is there an unexpected person who has helped you and, if so, how did they do it?

When I was in year 5, there was an untrained teacher who came to our school. She told us there was a high school some place that if we worked hard and passed an entry exam, we would be guaranteed 3 meals a day! That thought changed the game for me. That vision of 3 meals a day drove me to work so hard for the next 3 years that when I did the exams in class 8, I passed and was admitted to that school. That’s the power of a vision. Due to the generosity of the whole village a penny here a penny there, I was funded to go to that school.

And yes! There we ate three meals a day.

But this would be short-lived because my parents couldn’t afford the school fees. I was forced to leave the school I loved so much, one that I had worked so hard to go to, and I was back to impoverishment.

I worked in people’s farms to raise money for school, but the money was never enough.

Whilst languishing in the village as a teen, I would meet another person who would change my story dramatically. They said to me I needed to shift the way I thought about life and stop feeling sorry for myself. You can imagine the anger in me!

When someone tells you that if you stop feeling sorry for yourself you can change your story, it was madness to me. But they helped me process the anger, the fury, the shame I had about my life. When I did this, I began to see possibilities and started believing that somehow my life would change. When I did, this person decided to pay for my school fees so that I was able to complete my high school.

Those are just some of my childhood and adolescent challenges that have shaped me and tapered me to the work I do today.

7. My Inspiration ….who or what inspires you?

The sun! It has always fascinated me with its power, beauty and majesty. It rises every day and shines on the good and the bad. It never once not showed up because any of us did or didn’t do a thing. It gives life to every living thing without asking for anything in return. With all its power, in the evening it goes back to its sleeping place and gives way for the moon to shine.

Imagine a love like this…imagine if we actually learnt these lessons from the sun. Imagine how wonderful the world would be.

8. How do you relax, or do you struggle to relax?

Not a problem for me. I just stop and put on meditation and affirmations music and I am good. Sometimes I’ll fall asleep in these few moments.

Guilty secret pleasure?

Sitting and scoffing a whole packet of butter Mintoes in a go! (I can see my partner and daughter’s eyes wide open right now saying ‘that’s so true …then she comes begging for ours’. Ha ha ha.

9. Words of wisdom

“Like the lotus, we all have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness and radiate into the world,” Unknown.

To learn more about Raising Remarkable Teenagers watch this free webinar.

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