This is the worst topic. Why? Because it exposes how scary this time is in anyone’s life. And right now, my daughter Aubrey is in the middle of her thirteenth year. There are six more years of her teenagehood ahead of us. I remember the struggle of that age and how confused I was about my place in the world. For me, it was a time of questioning, trying out different personas, and worrying about the future.
I grew up going to church with my family. I was baptized as a baby and attended “Confirmation” classes from the age of 12-15. Church, God, Jesus, and the Bible were very confusing. I worried about all the people going to hell because they lived in a place that didn’t have a Christian church. I wanted answers to the big questions: Where do people go when they die? Did dinosaurs exist if the Bible didn’t mention them? Was the world really created in 6 days?
I looked forward to Sundays when I would go to church and have communion and be forgiven for my sins. But I also found church exceeeeeedingly boring! That is until I began attending a more fundamentalist church. The music was upbeat…no more droning organ! I loved preaching that spoke directly to me and gave easy, basic answers to big, hard questions.
Who Am I?
During this time, I remember my mom telling me that I was different when I was with a boyfriend. I had no idea what she was talking about. Now, I SEE and HEAR exactly what she meant when I see Aubrey with her friends and with boys. There is a sing-song tone in the voice. Giggling and over-the-top silliness are soooo attractive. Girls are supposed to cover their mouths when they laugh or smile to imply…modesty? I also quickly came to realize that life was easier if I put a boyfriend’s needs, interests, and wants before my own. I asked lots of questions, listened to the boyfriends’ goals and dreams, and tried to not make waves.
Good grief, this is just the tip of the iceberg!
And then there was my worry about what I would BE when I grew up. I lay in bed and worried about not knowing. I had been to counselors and they had basically shot down any of the ideas that I offered. Big help…not.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” -e.e.cummings
I think my adolescence was just a small part of this journey of becoming who I really am. It was a scary time too, because I didn’t have the understanding or experience to have my own back. I didn’t know what the future would be like. I didn’t know if I could trust myself to make good choices.
And that is really the crux, isn’t it? When you are a teen, you get to grow and learn and begin to develop responsibility for yourself. But your parents (hopefully) and family are there as a safety net to correct your course and help you learn from your mistakes.
But when you’re a grown-ass woman, you gotta be there for yourself.
Of course, adolescence is really just the beginning of becoming who you are going to be.
I don’t really worry or care about the lack of commentary in the Bible about dinosaurs.
I’ve figured out what I want to be when I grow up.
But, I think that I am STILL becoming who I am going to be. I’m not sure I will ever have myself all figured out. I am still learning about why I do what I do and how my brain works. And I’m still working on taking care of myself, protecting myself, and being kind to myself.
And that is a good thing…