As a child, you’re developing physically and emotionally. You’re learning about the world around you and you’re adopting the values and traits of your family members. However, as a teen, you’re beginning to sort out the kinds of values that you want to keep and those that you want to let go of. You’re becoming the person you want to be and not who you’ve been told to be. You’re sorting out how to become your own person, and this process is precisely what you should be doing at this age.
In fact, Erik Erikson, the developmental psychologist, saw adolescence as the most pivotal. In his theories about how a person develops over time, he broke life down into a series eight stages, each of which are difficult conflicts that an individual needs to move through. The successful transition through each stage facilitates the success of future stages in life. A teenager, specifically, is faced with the challenge of finding his or her unique identity among experiences of role confusion, peer pressure, and family tradition.
Erickson explained that teenagers are reaching for their independence, their uniqueness, and the role they will play in life. However, doing this in the midst of other confused teenagers, family conflicts, and the lingering need to hang onto their childhood is the mountain they must climb. Not to mention the temptation for drug use, the pressures of romantic involvement, developing sexual maturity, and maintaining academic success.
Adolescence is a time for discovering who you are, but it might be incredibly difficult given the expectations of parents, teachers, peers, and perhaps even girlfriends or boyfriends. It might be hard to find your own unique way underneath the demands and pressures of life. However, there are a few ways to do that. There are some activities that you can engage in that might support your ability to find your own way. For instance, here are a few ways to find yourself in the midst of adolescent chaos:
Journal – When it feels like the entire world is at your back, when it seems like everyone you know is holding something against you, or when it feels like no one is really getting you, open the notebook and you can practically feel its complete acceptance of who you are. Anything you want to say, the notebook will accept. There aren’t any rules in writing. Just put down on paper what you want to say! Doing this can help you sort out what’s important to you and you alone. Journaling can help with developing a relationship with yourself, accessing emotions, exploring your world, developing trust in yourself, and discovering what is important – for you! Journaling can also help with:
- evoking a sense of being heard and acknowledged
- fostering a sense of control
- opening the heart
- developing trust in yourself
- revealing your inner depth
- nurturing courage
- building your self confidence
- enhancing your creativity
- encouraging spontaneity
- invoking the imagination
Listen to Music – Music can sometimes say what we haven’t wanted to say but can’t. Music can express what we might not even known what we’re feeling, but when we hear it in the notes or lyrics, it comes alive for us. Music can help bring out parts of you that you didn’t even know were there.
Be Creative – Art is another way to access what is true for you – your feelings, your thoughts, and your views of the world. When you paint, draw, or dance you access a part of yourself that is unique and different than the rest of the world. Art helps to bring out your authenticity.
Although adolescence is challenging, finding your identity is a necessary step in this life stage and doing so, leads to psychological, emotional, and even physical health. The above suggestions are meant to facilitate that process in you.