August 13th, 2011

Remembering being young

When you're a young adolescent your brain works differently. There are several studies into it - here's one report

It is a time when life IS all about you. Your teachers, your parents and other adults all insist on it. You are at school working (or not) towards your future. You have to learn your responsibilities - though there used to be less emphasis on your rights - in society. It's a time of focus on you.

Anything that happens is important and feels like it will have an effect on the rest of your life. If your parents won't allow you to go to a party with your friends they've ruined your whole life for you. If you get a spot before the disco you'll never be able to go out in public. To lose face before your peers - well - it's one reason why adolescents commit suicide. As we get older we can laugh things off, laugh at ourselves very often. Teenagers can't. What your friends - or enemies - think is so much more important than what any adult - who just don't understand - may think or do to you.

I remember doing some stupid stuff as a teenager. It wasn't stupid at the time. It was what we were all doing. Like getting so drunk on disgusting tasting drinks that you are sick. It seemed such fun! I never did drugs, I don't really know why - I smoked, I drank - I knew people that did drugs, but none of my 'crowd' did. Perhaps it was because I left school at 15 and was working in a cotton mill as a trainee weaver. It was mainly something that students and 'bad' boys did. I never did anything very illegal - robbing, mugging or anything like that. I think I was probably a coward 'cos I never had a fight either.

I used to enjoy roller-coasters and riding them time and time again when the fair came to town, without ever feeling sick. Whole evenings of one ride after another. Last time I went on one I was panicking so much my step-daughter had to stop me from trying to get off when it was stationary up in the air.

It's hard - or even impossible - to remember from this distance the feelings of that time. I can cringe now at some of the things I did. Embarrassing. Why have young people been rioting this week? I think I can understand their involvement more so than the 30+ year olds - perhaps they just haven't matured yet.