“identity” and “labels” mean a lot to us… and there are reasons…

Posted: July 18, 2012 in For Educators, For Parents and Guardians, For Teenagers
Tags: , , , , , ,

even if you think they’re silly. do you want to know why we pierce ourselves, get tattoos, wear the clothes we wear, put make-up on the ways we do, listen to music that hurts your ears or use the language we use? because it’s actually quite simple, and it’s not just to aggravate our parents or get attention (although sometimes, it is).  we experiment with different “identities” because for us, having an “identity” means that we’re visible and that we are somebody distinct.  during our teen years, we’re going through so many changes and we feel so much doubt and uncertainty inside, that having an “identity” gives us something solid to hold on to.  we can say… “i’m a jock, i’m a rebel, i’m alternative, i’m gothic, i’m the self-destructive kid, i’m the risk taker, i’m gay, i’m a ladies man, i’m a popular kid, i’m the cheerleader…” and on and on and on. we look at adults and they seem so formed, and we think to ourselves that we want to feel as formed as they look… so we choose an identity that we think might help us feel visible and confident and connected to other like-minded young people our age.

we know a lot of you wonder why we choose such “strange” identities that often conflict with your beliefs or your sense of “sane”… but you should know that it’s only sometimes that we choose identities to spite you or to cause you irritation. usually we choose an identity that reflects some quality or need inside us…like the need to feel less afraid of judgment, or the need to express creativity, or the need to feel and look more powerful. and sometimes we do just end up with an identity that is shared by a few other kids we’ve made friends with. but this doesn’t mean the identity we adopt isn’t genuine, and it doesn’t mean we’ll discard the identity just because you call us “followers”. as soon as we adopt an identity, we’re going to keep it for a while and we’re going to make it ours… so do your best bet is put aside your judgments, and be curious about what’s going on inside our heads and hearts that drove us to look and act the way we do. and then right after you express your curiosity about the identities we’ve selected, remember to continue to appreciate the character underneath the show you see. our experimentation with different identities and labels may or may not become permanent parts of our personalities, but whether they do or don’t, if we’re not causing others harm or putting our futures in jeopardy, try to keep your cool and just stay as connected to us as you can.

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