#AgeofAdolescence – The Age Of Becoming
Navigating through life as an adolescent can be hard. The pressure and stress of fitting in, embracing bodily changes, seeking autonomy, learning about intimacy and sexuality, making new relationships and struggling through old ones, can be daunting and somewhat liberating at the same time. Somewhere in between all the chaos that almost defines the age of adolescence is the magic of metamorphosis. Yet, central to this time is the search for an identity, the quest to find oneself. More often than not, this quest is a rollercoaster ride of emotions and hormones and the culmination of answers they seek along the way.
1. THE EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER RIDE
No one can be prepared for puberty. From changes in one’s body and the awkwardness that goes in dealing with the change, unanswered questions in one’s head, uncontrollable and inexplicable mood swings, experiencing attraction for the first time, performance at school, acceptance by parents and peers, low and high self esteem compels adolescents to often act rebellious or compulsively or wither into a shell, see sawing between confusing and contradictory behaviours. This hormonal imbalance, physical and emotional rollercoaster ride of stepping into an unfamiliar space (in one’s mind and body) marks the start of one’s adolescent years.
2. WHEN SELF-WORTH BECOMES SKIN DEEP
The sudden growth of facial hair, breasts, acne and noticeable physical changes makes one’s outward appearance a constant trigger for stress and concern. These triggers change the way an adolescent sees him/herself, and the way that others see and treat him or her. Looking good and being noticed are the driving forces for ‘feeling worthy’. Constant selfies, counting likes and views on every social media post, attention seeking actions, are all based on the growing need to feel good about oneself.
3. IT’S ALL ABOUT PERCEPTIONS (AND PEER GROUPS)
Whether it is real or not, adolescents’ perceptions are closely linked to what is considered ‘cool’ or acceptable by their peers. Peer influence plays a critical role in determining how one views oneself, shapes one’s opinions, and takes action (whether risky or not) to feel accepted and part of a group. Be it the kind of music one listens to, the pick of school subjects or bad habits, the way one dresses and speaks are also closely intertwined by this strong influence. Adolescents often adopt behaviours of a peer group they want to be part of, to feel normal and accepted, that can largely shape their lives. Or, they look for a role model and imitate their outward behaviours, as a result, losing track of their own identity. Social media being the modern-day hangout place today, makes their every move judged by their peers, putting immense pressure to be popular (social anxiety) and perceived in the so-called right way.
4. EXPLORING AND EMBRACING ONE’S COMING OF AGE
Adolescence is the age to explore and understand sexuality. Sexual curiosity often leads to exposure to pornography, indulgence in sexual activities, and also increases the vulnerability for sexual abuse. The confusions of feeling attracted to a girl, a boy or anyone else, understanding the layers of those feelings, identifying one’s sexual preferences, mustering the courage to come out, and the curiosity of exploring a sexual relationship are predominant experiences during adolescent years. One’s cultural and social environment and childhood conditioning colours one’s attitude, thoughts and perceptions toward sexuality, determining adolescent romantic and sexual relationships of all kinds — happy, tragic, mutual, one-sided, healthy or abusive. Today, digital sexual activity including sexting had opened new avenues for adolescents to explore their sexual identity.
The age of adolescence is largely an age of disconnect and detachment from one’s parents and families, while one struggles to discover oneself. The change in oneself, the growing generation gap, the inability to understand and relate to others, leaves one at logger-heads with one’s parents, who are often on tender hooks, worried that their adolescent will indulge in bad habits and risky relationships. The advent of social media, its new language and way of life has further alienated children from their parents, under the common perception of “you don’t understand me”.
Photo Credits : Unknown
Words By : Leher