On that first day I stepped into my kindergarten class, I had no idea that the world was going to be how I see it now. All I saw on that day, was a bunch of frisky kids and a teacher who had a desire to impact our lives in a tremendous way—which she did.
Today I see a different world, a world in which people are transformed from one stage to another by the experiences they live through. These experiences for many, began in that kindergarten class; when they had to master the needed courage to befriend others. Friendship at that stage of our lives, was primarily based on who could play with us the longest. Our friendship needs, back in those early days, all began with the question: who wants to play with me?
As we grew older, leaders sprang up: the people who decided who they wanted on their football teams and those that they didn’t want. These new experiences led some to feel rejected, whiles for those who played, loved: loved by a person who was more confident than they were. It was also around this time that the teachers started separating the smart kids from the “dumb” ones, as some were termed: those who excelled in class and those who just couldn’t go beyond the low marks they were given. At that low ebb in the lives of the under-performers, they began to feel like outcasts, the lepers, the underdogs. They weren’t smart enough to be accepted by the teachers and the smart kids. This gave many kids another taste of loneliness and with this, a thirst for rebellion. Many grew rebellious, they yearned to rewrite the rules of acceptance. They yearned to have a name for themselves that the smarter kids didn’t have. In doing this, they fell, becoming the kind of creatures they never dreamed they would become.
High school with its leadership structures and rules, coupled with our rising emotional needs, brought about a new wave of experiences that the “rebels” sought strength from. There was authority and those who broke the rules, were both hated and worshiped. The rebels, in their quest for acceptance, broke the rules, got punished and made an ephemeral name for themselves. They were called the toughies, and they led a legion of weaklings down a dark rabbit hole in their quest for acceptance.
As we get into our teenage years, we begin to become like characters from George Orwell’s book: Animal Farm. We begin to see this world in ways we have never seen it before. We experience betrayal, hurt, abuse in our lives…we comfort our friends—those like us—when they are teased, bullied or hurt by other people. We become like underdogs in a prison camp comforting one another. With this, a new level of trust is built up amongst us. We trust the “prisoners of war” (POWs) and not the soldiers that have taken us captive. We trust no one but ourselves and the people in our cliques. And like POWs we look forward to seeing a leader who not only understands us, but one who can free us from our emotions.
Teenagers are in search of one thing, love through trust: a friend who understands them. You see, because when you understand a teenager, when you walk in their shoes and relive their life experiences, you will know why they do the things they do: teenagers are willing to try new experiences—we are learning beings—no matter how destructive, so far as it solves a need in their life. Teenagers will do anything to soothe their fears, as long as a person they trust, is willing to go on that journey with them. Unfortunately for teens and young adults, however, many of the experiences they indulge in to soothe their innermost fears, only transform them into the very beings they never wanted to become: copiers of the soldiers who imprisoned them: they become shadows of the people they never trusted. In trying to fight their past, they become the nemesis from their past, people who grow up to hurt and abuse others.
As loneliness builds up within many young adults, they begin to look for that one person who can numb these distasteful desires. Dating at this level is solely about finding the one person who will understand them and accept them for who they are. The only problem is that, many young adults—though they don’t always openly say it—yearn to be a better version of themselves, and not the people they became after the bitter life experiences they went through. We in reality want someone who loves us unconditionally, and who can help us to become the best version of ourselves. Without this, that is, when a relationship is purely based on ‘loving me for who I am or was when you met me’, divorce and other forms of marital conflict will be inevitable.