After all the ranting and the ups and downs of my toe (actually, there was no up or down in the past weeks as I had to rest it, but you get the point, right?) and the excitement of steering a death vehicle (aka car), negativity took its toll but I have finally banned it from my heart, my soul and my website.
Today, I want to write about something which was triggered by a chat with my brilliant father. He worked in education for a long time - as did, and still does, my mother - and we talked about the phases of human beings and their development and needs. He knows a lot about children development and I have worked with many people and even more children in my life, so I want to share some general revelations with you in this post which is going to be quite a report, so I would recommend to read only if you have time, a cup of tea in your hand and made a bladder-check.
Alright, then let's start.
You know that one of my friends, N, came over for Halloween and we had a blast of a time, but there is something I have noticed - not only with her but with all people in that age (she is nineteen and I am an old, haggard woman with my twenty-four compared to her).
As the past years have made me much more careful in a phase which I would describe as the "phase of disillusionment", people in their late teens have something I would call "positive arrogance towards the world". They jump even if they don't know what's on the other side, they are fearless and shamelessly arrogant towards the world - and I mean arrogant in the best of ways here, you might also say shamelessly fierce.
According to my dad, they are that way because they haven't suffered yet, haven't failed epically - on a bigger scale - and are on top of the hierarchy they know (school). They are freshmen of the world, fresh soldiers who haven't seen the bloodshed yet and are motivated, eager to attack and also refreshingly naive.
Now, I don't want to say that I know what suffering means with my twenty-four years, I don't. Even if you add the five years, existential fears are still something I haven't experienced (thank God), but still I have entered the phase of disillusionment where you realise that
a) no one in the world cares about you
b) you are the very bottom of the working world hierarchy
c) people don't take you seriously because you're still wet behind your ears
To point (a). I don't say this with embitterment anymore, but, of course, when you first realise it, there is some level of disillusionment (at least there was for me). You are just a wheel in a huge machine, meant to do your part in order to make everything work.
And here, the key point lies, I think. I believe that people develop in stages of stability or instability - egotism and communal sense. Neither of it is bad or good, it is just how we develop and it is essential that we be supported in our various stages and realise that people who are in an unstable phase need more support. But let me explain it in a more structured way (oh, university, if only I could stop hearing your voice...)
Phase 1: Baby
We are born and don't have a feeling for who we are. We see ourselves as a part of the world. We have no I-feeling yet.
Phase 2: Toddler/Child Transition
When children are about three years old (like, for example, one of my former proteges), they enter a stage in which they shape and define their personality and become children. This stage I would define as a phase of instability which also explains their tantrums, mood changes and general awfulness...I mean, difficult behaviour... (no, actually, they are stinking cute at that stage, but they certainly do develop their voice and opinion).
I believe it is essential to support children that age in their egotism and instability because they need it in order to develop their personality without any obstruction. Requesting empathy and understanding for others is impossible at that stage because these children are so preoccupied with themselves that it is literally impossible to include anyone else in their equation called life. Of course, that doesn't mean that they're monsters (or are they?) but that their priorities lie with themselves and it is important that they're given the space for this stage of their development.
Phase 3: Being a Child Within the Community
My mum always says (and Maria Montessori does so, too) that children develop in three-year-stages and it is true. 0-3: stable, within world view; 3-6: unstable phase of personality development; 6-12 (six years): stable, communal sense; 13-19: unstable phase, finding your voice as an adult; 20+: establishing as an adult and finding your place, supporting community - and so on.
So, in phase 3, children go to school, they're more involved in the family life (ideally) and they realise that they are a part of a community in which they have to do their job to make it work. Communal sense becomes the most important aspect of life, which is why children that age often cannot cope with communal injustice or unfairness.
My other protege, a girl, was 6/7 and it was interesting to watch how frustrated she got when she played with her 3/4 year old brother because for him his personal voice and opinion stood above everything in the quest to develop his personality whereas she believed in compromise and fairness in her need for community and justice.
Phase 4: Being a Teenager: Finding Your Adult Voice
When the hormones rage and suddenly people treat you differently, it can stir up a lot of confusion, frustration and chaos. I daresay teenagers are the most misunderstood category in our education systems. Instead of being supported and guided, they are often left alone, abandoned and overwhelmed with their duties and tasks. They become subjects of their parents' expectations and distorted images of their future already decided for them (not always, I am talking about some cases I had to endure to watch as a teacher).
Teenagers have to learn how to be an adult in this world and undergo a phase of instability and egotism where they develop their second personal self - their adult self. They are, developmentally seen, exactly the same as four-year-olds. No, don't shake your heads, just bear with me for a second. They have permanent tantrums, mood changes and get frustrated very easily, right? Sounds familiar? Yes, because you've just read it in phase 2.
Anyway, to return to my first point, teenagers need a healthy level of egotism and arrogance towards the world to actually master it. They haven't been eaten alive, swallowed and spat out by the world yet, which is great because that makes them fighters. Fighters for their voice.
Phase 5: The Phase of Disillusionment: Finding Your Place
This is the last point I am going to discuss today because it is the age I am in. I wouldn't dare to write about ages I haven't been yet because I will only truly know when I have undergone them.
When you're freshly out of school you think your possibilities are endless, and often it is that case; however, too many possibilities can also pose as a problem and often this sense of freedom and independence is accompanied by fear and feeling lost.
When I studied, I learnt how unfair the world can be. I also realised - and that was very painful at first - that no one cared a shit about me. I don't mean that in an embittered or negative way now, but it is just what reality is. This world is so huge and there are so many people in it that no one has the time (or wish) to concentrate only on YOU. You are also "just" a wheel in this system, playing your part, making sure everything runs smoothly.
When you have suffered through these revelations, you have to find your place in this big world, which is not only daunting but also often very difficult. Our huge aspirations of our teenage-hood slowly fade away as reality sets in and I think that when you are lucky to find the place you belong, you will realise that the real life you've found probably exceeds your wildest teenage dreams by far. I can say that it helps to spend your time with people younger than you (and older, the stories and wisdom they can tell you) as the late teenagers remind you that sometimes it is good to jump without thinking about it too much and forget the scars that have already made you refrain from daring and risking. So I am trying to stay open for possibilities which I haven't even considered because it is often what we least expected what makes us the happiest.
Thank you for reading and staying with me until the rest and, please, if you agree or disagree (or something else), just comment here or on Facebook. I would love to hear your opinions on the subject.
Writer. Editor. Blogger. YouTuber. Freelancer. Traveller. English fanatic.