January 20, 2007

Two-Faced Teens Adjusting to Life

One of the essay topics my students were given as part of their final exam asked them to compare and contrast how differently they act with their friends and families. They all have similar themes running through their essays, and that is that they love their families, but they feel more free when they are with their friends.

They all recognize that they have two sides of their personalities: the calm, obedient sides for their parents and the loud, crazy sides for their friends. What is remarkable to me is that every single one of these students accepted that these differences were simply different sides of their personalities. It's just the way life is. There was only slight remorse that they couldn't truly show their complete natural selves to their friends and families equally. When I was a teenager, I distinctly remember not feeling like I could truly be the whole me with my friends and family, too. I don't think I was so accepting of my feelings and situations, though.

In the big picture, their abilities morph their personalities to adapt to different situations is a pretty important life skill. How many of us act exactly the same around everyone? I know I have about ten different personalities that I'd like to streamline into just one, but until I commit to being completely eccentric, I cannot really be of just one mind and personality.

It warmed my heart to see how much they respect and love their families. Even the students I know who are having conflicts with their parents wrote of their love and appreciation for their families. The unwritten thing that I learned about my students is that many of them feel an incredible amount of pressure from their parents. They have to get good grades. They have to do their chores. They have to remain calm and obedient. They have to keep their sad feelings hidden. They hide their teen angst.

The road through teenagerhood is rough, but my students are handling the bumpiness and keeping to the path pretty well. Their essays tugged at my heart strings in the name of pride and empathy.

No comments: