The youth is constantly being told how they should feel and act in the public eye. The “correct” way to interact with others on a daily basis. Sometimes, it seems as though social courtesies have become rules forcefully implemented by those found in older generations.
These rules may include: always smile in public, never be in a bad mood around other people, and never question what an adult tells you. In reality, these things may be more difficult than it seems to achieve.
But the truth is, adolescence marks a prime moment in one’s life. Adolescence marks the transition from childhood to adulthood. This is represented through psychosocial, moral, and emotional changes as development occurs.
There are many times in your life where you may not understand how and why you feel a certain way. And there several scientific reasons behind why it is okay to feel all that you feel.
1. Your Psychosocial Development
An early theory developed by Erik Erickson divided psychosocial development into eight individual stages. An important stage in one’s development is Identity vs. Role Confusion. This stage typically happens from ages 12 to 18, when adolescents struggle with the questions “Who am I” and “What do I want to do with my life?” Adolescents search for a sense of self, sexual, and personal identity, through concentrated examination and assessment of values, goals, and beliefs.
But why is this process so difficult?
Typically, the idea of evolution is adjusting and adapting to one’s environment when necessary, in order to survive. Well, the transition from childhood to adulthood is your version of evolution. You are placed in a situation where you must develop and evolve in order to keep up with societal changes.
The idea of belonging in a society that is constantly reshaping itself can be stressful. In this stage, you become more vulnerable as you begin to gain a greater sense of independence and question who you are. These questions range from situations in the present to what may happen in your future. You may begin to look at the future in terms of your career, relationships, and family.
2. Your Psycho-Development
When introduced to this stage, Erikson suggests that adolescents are faced with the virtue of fidelity. This is characterized by the self-esteem and self-confidence that are essential to associate with people and beliefs. Adolescents may feel uncomfortable with their bodies until they are able to commit to one’s self and “grow into” changes.
Remember that it is okay to have insecurities, as long as you learn from it and continue to grow. Make room for yourself to improve. But it is important to remember that you do not need to apologize for who you are or who you are becoming. This period of your life may feel harsh, but you have come this far in your life. There is so much more to come. So many great things that have yet to happen in your life.
3. Your Moral Development
The idea of morality is one’s capacity to form judgments based on what is right and wrong. Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development splits human morality into three distinct levels. During adolescence, young adults are typically at the conventional level of moral development.
At the conventional level, morality is tied to personal and societal relationships. Adolescents begin to internalize and adopt the moral standards of respected adult role models. And the idea of authority is internalized, rather than questioned, and the reason is based on the social norms developed by the group that you belong in.
This level is divided into two stages: Good Boy, Nice Girl Orientation, and Law-and-Order Orientation.
4. Finding Your "Good Boy, Nice Girl" Orientation
This stage is represented by the idea of social approval. Adolescents tend to act in ways to gain approval or avoid disapproval. You may try to maintain or gain the affection of others.
For example, you may dress in certain clothing or listen to certain music due to the fact that it is popular among people around you. Your interests and behavior may be influenced to gain a sense of approval from others.
A popular pop-culture example of this stage is the movie, “Mean Girls”. In this movie, the main protagonist shifts her behavior and beliefs in order to fit in with a social group found within her school.
5. Going Through "Law-and-Order" Orientation
This stage is represented by the idea of social order. You may instinctively accept rules because of their importance in maintaining a “functioning society”.
A popular pop-culture example of this stage is the television show, “The Good Place”. In this show, the protagonist must let go of her old life and adjust to the rules and moral standards of her new life, in order to survive.
6. Your Emotional Development
As you begin to mature, you may notice that you feel more intense emotions. You may experience emotional ups and downs that you are not able to explain. This is because as you mature, your brain is still learning how to control and express emotions in a reasonable manner. There are many emotional aspects that change as you grow.
There are various studies that suggest that the brain undergoes a sensitive period at the peak of adolescence. During this period, the displayed level of sensitivity in adolescents is heightened in social settings.
Teenage self-esteem is a very notorious concept. Many adolescents may begin to use his or her physical appearance to determine their character. Self-esteem is heavily influenced by parental behavior and social factors. Social factors may include comparing your body to your peers or close friends.
During this period in your life, it is okay to struggle with your sense of self. It is a natural process that is necessary for your development.
You are allowed to and supposed to question anything and everything. Your gender, your sexuality, who you like and dislike, who you want to be when you get older, who you respect and don't respect, what you care about and what you don't. It doesn't matter what your parents tell you. It doesn't matter what your school tells you. It doesn't matter what society tells you. You have the right to question everything.
If you feel lost, you're not. This is just a normal part of life. Changing your mind and having more questions than answers is normal.