The Rebellious Freedom Of Adolescence

Three girls and one boy sitting on steps outside holding cell phones

The Wild, Wild West Phase Of Life

Not for everyone but for many, adolescence is a time for experimentation, disconnection from family, personal exploration, stubbornness, risk-taking, drug use and promiscuous behavior. During these years, you grow up and realize that your parents just don’t cut it anymore; everything is about status, fitting in, experiencing sex, getting drunk, getting high and just being free while spending time with your friends.

Unfortunately, many don’t grow out of this phase and continue with the same immature mindset in their late 20s and even early 30s. While there is nothing wrong with being rebellious during your adolescence, it’s almost expected that you eventually grow out of it and become a responsible adult. But many who get hooked on drugs remain in this mindset and never grow out of it.

It’s interesting how many adolescents actually experience a much different phase during the ages of 14-18. There are the nerds who study hard with the intent on getting into a great college: these nerds can be the unpopular ones who don’t care about their appearance or the popular ones who still socialize, play sports and do well in academics.

Then there are the “losers” who don’t do well in school and are not popular; they’re kind of “just there” on the sidelines for people to make fun of. Unfortunately, these are the ones who end up developing a mental illness such as depression and commit suicide or go on killing sprees. The “losers” unfortunately fall in a pattern where they don’t apply themselves in school and are also socially awkward.

How about the jocks who are big and strong and dominate the soccer, football and lacrosse fields? Yes . . . the boys that all the girls secretly crave. These guys are naturally gifted with height, a muscular built and many with good looks. Because of their appearance and success in sports, they develop a lot of confidence and self-assurance, attracting females left and right while enjoying their popular status.

And lastly, the cool kids! They are either in a band, play sports as well or neither . . . they’re just cool by nature. They’re smart enough to know how to talk, dress and attract attention from other popular kids; they don’t have to be necessarily good at any particular activity besides being cool and partying. These kids are the ones who are always invited to a party or throwing the party in the first place; their life is full of booze, drugs and sex.

As you can see, the adolescence phase is the wild, wild west for many teenagers, but for other kids, it can be the worst four years of their life. I decided to write about this topic because I find it fascinating how there are many routes that a teenager can take during high school; the psychology of adolescents is quite “cool” by nature. Anything can happen during these years and for many, they end up determining their future.

How was your experience with the rebellious freedom of adolescence?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Adolescent Decisions

Four teenage boys sitting on mountain trail

Choices Matter

It’s no secret that teenagers are easily influenced by their peers. Often times, what the group says is what goes; if you question it, you become the laughingstock of your peers. That is why many teenagers experience difficulty stopping an inappropriate activity once they have begun; they want to avoid ridicule at all costs.

For instance, many teenagers start smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol during their adolescent years in high school. Some of them genuinely like the substances and have no interest in quitting; they see their new group as their new home. But many become disinterested in using these substances; especially daily use as many teenagers partake in.

For these adolescents, it becomes difficult to leave a group or even to just tell the group that they are not interested in the substance. They are afraid to lose approval, or even worse, lose their friends. They’ve worked hard to reach their status and break into the group as one of the members; they don’t want to jeopardize their popularity.

The teenagers who choose not to leave a group decide to substitute one substance for another. For instance, their group may be known as the “stoners”, but the person who is not so fond of smoking decides to drink more alcohol; he now stands out in the group as the “alchy.”

As a teenager, it is very important to choose your friends wisely. Do not necessarily target the popular kids, because the popular kids can get you down a rabbit hole from which you may never come out of again. There are many different types of popular kids: you have the stoners, the druggies, the jocks, the rockstars, etc.

Remember one important take-home message: no matter who you decide to spend your free time with, always be yourself and do not do something which you do not agree with. If that means losing your role in a particular group, then lose your role! Your life is more important than satisfying a group of kids, whom in all honesty, will probably no longer be your friends during or after college.

Choices matter. Your life matters. Do the right thing!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)