Life & Love

Teenage: the most confusing stage of life


Ask anyone and they’ll tell you teenagers are the wildest, most disobedient and careless age group to exist. The world has formed a consensus on that, and we all act on the belief as if it were a universal truth, like we do with many other things. Having left my teenage behind while still being surrounded with teenagers all the time, I think the world needs to come to an understanding with teenagers. We all go through it; for some it is the best age to have lived, for some it is the worst, some just don’t know where and how it went, and a few others see it as a learning age. It is a curious age indeed, preceding adulthood, succeeding childhood, and including adolescence-very significant and widely misunderstood, even and perhaps especially by teenagers themselves. In many ways, teenage is similar to infancy and toddlerhood. A child learns and develops his personality till he’s four, and some believe, till six-and then he applies all that he has learned in infancy and toddlerhood, in his childhood. He experiments with the acquired knowledge, reaches new conclusions and acts on them, basically verifies everything previously learned. And then comes teenage with a new set of problems. It is the only other stage of life with huge growth spurts where the teenager acquires still newer knowledge, this time more in relation with the bigger picture rather than being self-centered. He learns, develops his personality further, builds his own view of the world and people rather than relying on the knowledge given to him by others, which is why you’ll notice teenagers are often wary and distrusting, or at least critical.

Things that happen in teenage:

  1. Building a stable sense of the Self:

    This is one most crucial processes in teenage and has influence over every other factor. Every teenager struggles with his identity, especially in this age where we’re over-exposed to figures, standards, groups we could relate to, in form of movies, social figures, celebrities, literature, activist and stereotypical groups etc. So many factors begin to matter; new friendships are built, the family begins to acknowledge the teen as a grown-up, educational institutes become tough, and the world begins to expect. All of this, when dumped on the teenager without proper guidance from an understanding source, creates a havoc in the teenage mind and his identity, however much has formed, disintegrates. And ironically, when a teenager needs a sympathetic figure most, his attitude itself creates a wedge between him and anyone who could be of help to him. But that is teenage, and adults need to understand this. Everything we hurl at a teenager adds to his sense of Self. He’s looking for himself everywhere, often in a disorganized way, and circumstances plus hormones and an overload of emotion make it difficult for him.

  2. Psychological tenderness and Self-image:

    A teenager is highly impressionable. He’ll take what he gets and try to make sense of it, try to incorporate it somewhere in the jigsaw of his personality, giving meaning to things which need to be given no meaning, being oversensitive to issues which require little attention, taking influence from uncertain sources. He’ll be influenced by everything whether it be family issues, recess shenanigans, or local/global politics. At a time when he is trying to comprehend or construct his identity in an organized manner, all of this lends to his personality. Every event forms a piece of the teenager’s self-image which we all naturally struggle with. Small comments and incidents can make or break his opinion of himself. This is something that parents and teachers especially need to understand. Teenagers might have an exterior of “we don’t care”, but they care deeply. They just feel it necessary to act strong, often because, we tell them they need to be strong all the time. We tend to put them up on pedestals and expect them to live up to standards we’ve thrust upon them. When then would they get to find out what they want and where their passion lies? Point being that the image one forms at this stage remains with him forever, and that a teenager needs to be given sufficient autonomy to be able to fly on his own.

  3. Passion and Confusion:

    The world agrees that this age is one in which passion is at its peak, as is confusion. Passion, because youth’s alacrity is famous, naivety as well, idealism exists here in abundance, and this is the age of hormones. Confusion because the world speaks too much, and the teenager tends to listen to other voices more than himself. Once an individual has identified himself, he knows with certainty where he wants to go. He finds himself able to identify and implement upon his passions, and is more confident in his skills. But in teenage, one is still looking for direction and with the world brimming with options, the mind becomes boggled. This is natural, even if it seems to be the apocalypse for a teenager.

    Some theorists argue that a significant amount of reorientation of self occurs during the teenage period. This reorientation is seen as a result of all the cognitive, physical and social changes that one experiences in adolescence. Thus self-esteem may become the subject of a period of reorganization that may include questioning one’s values and goals and his or her purpose in life. This process sometimes leads to a feeling of discomfort and confusion.


  4. Perspective of the world (the present, past and future):

    In this entire process of maturing, a teenager forms his philosophy of the world, his perspective on global issues, which in turn helps him cope with his past, present and future. It also has significant effect on his dealings with people, his interaction with institutions, and his motivation as well. He forms this perspective and abides by it for life.

A lot more happens, and if I were to list it all, I’d have to write a book. Teenage is an age of extremes; emotions are extreme, relationships too are extreme, opinions are often extreme, and reactions are extreme. Extremes are almost always destructive. Bouts of extremism help us differentiate, and are learning tools but they can also lead to depression in teens. This must be avoided at all cost. Yes, teens look for a sense of belongingness and for that the might take wrong routes, but if we equip them with the right tools, we can make teenage less traumatic. A lot of credit for teenage delinquency goes to adults, for lack of understanding. And if this was taken care of, perhaps the world consensus on teenagers could take on a new, more positive colour.

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