Bryan Adams’s chart buster song resonates in the mind at the thought of enjoying permanent youth. The lyrics go like “Want to be young for the rest of my life, Never say no try anything twice, Till the angels come and ask me to fly, I want to be 18 till I die”.
The desire to stop the time and enjoy the age of eighteen is strong, but so is the time to enter the age of teens very eagerly awaited. Here comes the 13th birthday and there comes a sense of emancipation. Teenage comes with an air of “on our own and know it all” attitude. This transition from childhood to adolescence is the most vital and influential period in a person’s life. There are sudden physical, psychological and emotional changes triggered by hormonal secretions in the body. It is a natural phenomenon that all of us go through and is marked by several bodily and behavioral transformation. Puberty sets in among boys and girls around the age of 12 and 10 respectively. The release of testosterone in boys and estrogen and progesterone chemicals in girls is responsible for their new look and outlook. The first visible change in a child’s behavior is demand for more liberty. This often leads to parental conflict because parents find this sudden need for extra freedom inappropriate and unnecessary. It is here that the “rebellion” streak sets in a teenager. They want their private space and do not like anybody barging their privacy. We as grown ups only see their unreasonable demand for greater independence but fail to understand the need for it. At this juncture of age, they find themselves interested in a lot of new topics and things. While we are unable to understand them and they are unable to cope up with their changes, it builds a lot of adolescent anxiety.
This is the age when girls and boys come to know and understand their biological differences. Now a girl looks at herself in the mirror with different set of eyes and it is imperative to appear beautiful. As for the boys they have their abrupt voice break and first signs of manhood appearing on the face. The carefree kids now turn teeny-boppers and have a new objective in life that is to attract and impress the opposite sex. But on one hand when they are trying to look their best, the skin ailments like acne, pimples, make them their victims. It is on account of hormonal changes and minimum concern for their skin. The days are spent sweating on the playgrounds, gobbling burgers and gulping cokes. A little care could do well for them though. However there is a strange fluttering inside them seeing the opposite sex. This is a very likely and normal reaction. The curiosity level at this age is really high and the only source of information is friends or some books they can lay their hands on clandestinely. This makes sex education extremely significant to avoid young and impressionable minds have misconceptions and wrong information.
Specifically, in this era of supersonic technology and media, the access to information, whether relevant for a particular age or not, comes quite easy. Material, suitable only for adult viewing and reading falls in tender hands. This early and over exposure has actually made the typical teenage characteristics appear even before the teenage. The untimely loss of innocence has brought its own consequences for the society to meet. It would be a folly to compare a teenager of today to that of ten years before. But however much the level of information may rise; the definition of “responsible behavior” will still be the same.
Their inquisitiveness is not confined to mere talks; they have adopted the practical approach rather seriously. The uninformed and irresponsible teenage sexual exploits have got many a young girls pregnant and go though abortions at an age when dolls and teddy bears would still hold their interest. Another latest fad with slightly grown up teenagers is dope. Drug abuse is the biggest challenge of progressive lifestyle. The easy availability of drugs, inability to resist the temptation and peer pressure to follow the “cool culture” is behind this menace.
It is not as though these problems are distinctively of adolescence but their rampant appearance at such an inspiring age is frightening and often at the root of intense mental and physical turmoil later in life. In today’s competitive world, opportunities do not knock twice because someone else has already let it in, in his door. Hence only an adept and alert mind can succeed. Parental and peer pressure is awfully high and even normal shoulders are unable to bear the burden. The number of suicide cases among school students due to less than expected scoring in exams evidences the fact. In such a scenario if you further have distractions of the kinds of drugs, sex and smoke, you tremendously retard and restrict any scope for your future growth. We cannot vanish the period of adolescence between childhood and youth. The age of anxiety, curiosity and immaturity will definitely come as a link between innocence and maturity. Over protectiveness or shying away from the big bad world will not solve any problems. The only ammunition to tackle the rawness of this age is the lesson on responsibility. While the teenager is so determined to take his own decisions, make him understand that every decision of today whether right or wrong will have its bearing on his tomorrow.
However, teenage is not an age of lewd distractions and liberties alone. There are some real time issues to be addressed and goals to be set. In this fast and shrewd world, nothing works without a definite plan of action. At the age of 16-18, a teenager is saddled with some cardinal matters relating to his career and aspirations. The presence of myriad choices creates a myopic effect. Personal decisions are swayed by friends’ choices. Family, friends and personal aspirations exert pressure over each other and there is torturous internal conflict. To a mature adult, such tussle of interest may seem trivial but for a young mind, it is catch 22 situation. But every age comes with its own charm and so does teen age. This age is a harbinger of new freshness, enthusiasm, eagerness and an added dimension to your personality. Challenges are a part of every age, be it from Stone Age to jet age or childhood to old age. But like Corrie Ten Boom said, “The tree on the mountain takes whatever the weather brings. If it has any choice at all it is in putting down roots as deeply as possible”. So is true for us in all ages and particularly for teenage because if the roots of mind are strong, firm and clear at this age, the later years will be abundantly fruit and flower bearing.
Teenage is not about tantrums and troubles. It is about transformation and transition. A transitory phase that evolves an adult from a child and a man from a boy. Respect this boy now and he will grow up to earn his own respect.