From what I’ve seen, adolescence is an emotional roller coaster. It’s a major transition which leaves a lifelong impact on everybody. It isn’t a smooth journey and it isn’t clear-cut. You don’t really understand what’s going on, even if you’re a teenager yourself. You don’t recognize yourself in the mirror. You don’t recognize your actions. You feel all over the place.
In this article, I will not go into the science of the brain because -although it’s very interesting- it isn’t the route I want to take here. I want to make things a bit simple and relatable. So here’s a very straightforward explanation of what goes on:
Let’s say you’ve just turned 12. You start tobecome more aware of the world around you. This is when puberty just starts to kick in for some. Nothing grand occurs, you just start looking a little different or maybe you don’t. Either way, this is where the bullying starts or it doesn’t. You see, I mentioned above that this isn’t clear-cut. It’s a different experience for everyone. Nevertheless, at this stage you don’t look like any of your friends. So one of two, you either get bullied or you naturally feel bad about your body.
For example, I grew very tall when I was 12. I think I grew more than 15 cm in less than a year. Nobody was rude about it, thankfully, but I still felt like a misfit. I couldn’t understand why I suddenly looked so different.
I have read so many poems dedicated to the age of 13. It’s crazy that what 13-year-olds experience is universal. So, what happens is what I like to call “the hormone bomb”. Most people are on the climax of puberty during this time. Your bodies release a huge amount of hormones. It changes dramatically and on top of that, you feel like crap. You feel sad all the time. You feel funny, like something isn’t right.
For me, 13 was a hot mess. My whole physique changed, leaving me feeling extremely self-conscious. I felt unhappy and angry 24/7. I blamed everyone around me for what I felt except for myself. I also quite remember my inability to verbalize how I was feeling or why I was feeling a certain way.
The hormone bomb doesn’t always end after 13. It might continue till you’re 14 or even 15. Next to all of this, you’ve got peer pressure. You are pressured to try all those new things, like going out with boys/girls. You need to know how to use makeup. You need to go to parties and try things that are cool. You need to act like the cool kids.
Strange enough, I never felt obliged to hangout with the cool kids or look like them. I was still very much myself. This is not to say that I didn’t do some dumb mistakes that make me cringe now, but rather to say that I was more observant to my surroundings. However, I do know many people who were very affected by peer pressure.
This is when things are supposed to cool down a bit. There’s still some peer pressure but your personality starts to unfold. Therefore, more or less you decide what’s best for you. You start to discover your interests. You begin to feel more relaxed. Things start to make sense again.
For me, 15 was probably a turning point. It was now clear that I loved literature and politics. This helped me get very engaged in the world of writing and debate.
Again, I know this might not be the case for everyone. Some might still be struggling to find themselves. I believe, they will get their chances too, but perhaps that might be a little later than 15.
Being 15+ comes with its own challenges, too. Nothing is perfect, unfortunately. You are now expected to think carefully and plan thoroughly for your future. Your grades matter, the subjects you’re studying matter and what you decide to do with your life matters.
It’s very important to know that adolescence is tough. I recommend having someone to talk to along the way. Even if you’re unable to identify what you’re feeling (like i couldn’t) it’s still very helpful to have someone here for you. It would be best if they are a parent or an adult you trust. Stay safe and remember to find what interests you, not what interests the cool kids!