Easily one of the most misunderstood stages of human development. Truly. They are as a group maligned, misunderstood, blamed, accused, ridiculed, minimized, and otherwise made to feel insignificant, small and a burden. This is how our culture prepares young adults for the world. Delightful bunch, those in the culture doing this.
I don’t know if it’s adolescents or two year olds (you know, those “terrible twos”) who get the worst rap. Today I’m giving it to the adols. Two year olds at least don’t get scared emotionally by the views of adults (well, some do… I know… it’s complicated).
Adolescents, by nature, are sweet, sensitive souls. They have a hankering for philosophy and wrestling with the big questions of life. They are on the one hand filled with a sense of invulnerability and on the other consumed by the anxiety of the life ahead of them. Their brain is being reorganized for them (“excuse me, adolescent person, I need to borrow your brain for a few years, do some pruning, tweaking, reorganizing… don’t mind me, I’ll let you use pieces of it here and there, but it won’t be fully accessible to you… sorry”) So they come across as risk-taking, know-it-all rebellious types and adults malign them for it and/or steer clear of them out of discomfort.
We need to start identifying what’s going on with adolescence. We need to recognize what this stage of growth requires in order to propel each young adult into the adult world equipped with the skills and sensitivities that will serve them well. Too much flopping about, failure, regret and sadness these days, in the world of adolescence.
Let’s change the offering. Let’s create opportunities for their healthy development. They want big challenges. They want to earn respect by contributing to the world around them. Let’s meet them where they are and offer meaningful roles, not “playing at” pretend abbreviations of what’s really needed. They’ll rise to the occasion – I know, I’ve seen it time and again.
We’ve got a lot of fixing to do with this world. We need all the capable, earnest, willing, engaged adolescents we can find. They can’t do this on their own. Let’s give a little bit (great song, the remake too).