Monday, 4 March 2013

Shifting sands....

I attended a sporting event with my 13 year old daughter....and....surrounded by a couple of hundred 13 to 14 year olds was confronting...if not an eye opener.  How times have changed since I was 13...or had they?  The interaction of girls/girls - boys/boys - girls/boys was fascinating to say the least.  I watched many play on plays, and it got me thinking how I would survive in the modern world of a 13 year old.

When I was 13, it was 1980.  John Lennon was assassinated, Pac Man was invented and the Rubik's Cube became popular.  Computers were only just being heard of (it wasn't until a couple of years later we had a few installed at school), we listened to records and Walkmans and used the land line telephone to talk to friends. 1980 was the start of a fashion revolution of shoulder pads, big earrings, big hair and leg warmers.  All I remember of 1980 was an awkward start to high school, Duran Duran,  trying to find my place on the high school society rung, and experiencing my first kiss.  I still love 80's music and 80's movies - they resonate within me.

These days the teenagers are more informed - which is good, but also bad (they seem to lose their innocence so much earlier).  The language is worse, the makeup is heavier and the sexual innuendo is so much more defined - and yet laughed about in a nonchalant kind of way. Where exactly would I fit in to this modern, liberated, teenage life?  Would I be the "cake face" trying to boost my confidence by plastering my face with so much makeup a cake spatula would be needed and living off the comments of friends "you're so pretty", "no you are", "puhleese, look in the mirror!".  Would I be a "sporty spice" going for the athletic angle to fulfil my need to be accepted.  Would I be the "nerd", studying for perfect scores while living a whole new life on World Of Warcraft or Runescape.  Or would I be the "blender", who goes along with whatever is popular at the time, and changes appearance like a chameleon in the hope of fitting in.  All stereotypes of course, but at the same time, all real people.

On so many levels nothing has changed since 1980, but in so many ways it has.  The Internet has made it a whole new world.  But the underlying current that has never changed is the need to feel accepted, and the impact that self esteem has on the teenage brain.  If anything needs to be encouraged, it is the small sprouting seed of self confidence in a teenager.  How that seed is watered and nurtured ultimately leads to the adult that grows from within.

I don't know where I would fit in today's teenage world, it's a little scary to contemplate and I'm glad I was a teenager in the 80's when life seemed simpler....or was it?

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