Seventeen Again

Let’s admit it, adulating is hard work. Many of us are in that in-between age where were old enough to want to do everything on our own and get our lives started, but young enough to not have all the answers and still need mom and dad’s advice on how to do, well, life. As we’ve talked about the idea of adolescence and how they are these in between age group, I think we tend to forget that just a few years ago we were right there, trying to find ourselves, the perfect friends group, and picking out the latest trends from the mall.

When we think about emerging identities in the adolescence part of life, this is the beginning stage of who we will become later in life. We may go through phases of different styles, friends, and even the way we take care of ourselves, but it’s all a part of life. From chapter 29 in “Teenage,” we see how the identities of many of the teens evolved into this pop culture scene and mainly the girls were the ones who fell under the scope of the mainstream. Of course this chapter was set in the 1940s when the main focus was the war, but it gives a great view of how as teens, its easy to jump on board and identify with what’s popular, even though you may not agree with it.

One of the examples from the chapter was Frank Sinatra and how he wasn’t your typical “boy” during that time period. He was set apart from the norm and was criticized for not being in the army, but dancing and singing on stage. Now in today’s time, there would be such a problem with that, even when there is a war going on, but I felt as though this was a good example of how societies, especially emerging adults, view each other. This view helps to shape our culture and if you don’t fit that cookie cutter description of what society thinks is “okay,” then you are subject to more than just criticism from peers.

Emotions, emotions, emotions, run rampant during the teenage years. You aren’t pretty enough. You aren’t skinny enough. Your hair is the right color, length, or style. Your clothes were last season. You don’t like the same music as everyone else. Fitting in might be the hardest thing to do for someone who doesn’t want to be a part of the norm. We have mentioned in class how even though someone wants to stand out and be different, there is still a mold that you fit into because it’s the “it thing” to do.

But then you think about the all the other stuff that comes with being a teenager. What social class are you in, what’s your race, what neighborhood do you live in, what’s your parents occupation? All of this plays major roles in the identity that we become. Some non-conformists may say that it’s bogus, but if we take the sociological approach to this, our family background has a lot to do with our future. Some of us may do a lot better than our families, but what about those teens who have to grow up quick because their parents either are working 4 and 5 jobs to put food on the table or are incarcerated? Our identity emerges from so many aspects of life and as a teen; it can be a big pill to swallow if you aren’t equipped to do so.

I would have to say that there are some major differences between being a teenager in the 1940s than being one today. As we have talked about in class, this is the technology age and technology has helped, or lack thereof, shape our identity in today’s culture. Younger and younger there are children getting smartphones with access to so much information. Social media is a major thing amongst teens and even adults and what is posted on the Internet is being seen by the youth of today. Although we all want to start the next trend or to be a leader, they children that we are raising is following in our footsteps. They see the stuff we post and they think it is okay because we are their role models.

Identity is a tough thing to deal with when there are so many external influences that we have no control over. Being a teenager is the last opportunity, in my opinion, we have to really enjoy the freedom of being whatever it is that we want to be. Once adulthood hits, we have to take that identity we chose to conform with and make it the best we can for the rest of our lives. There is much room and flexibility for movement and change, but I think going forward, as a generation we have to get a grasp on what it takes to form an identity and really help the generations after us see that’s its okay not to be with the in-crowd. Once we shift towards a better understanding of self, I think that we can accomplish a lot with finding and doing identity.

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