Youths, Do You Isolate Yourselves?
With People or Withdrawn—Where Would You Rather Be?
The opening guitar part soars high and wild. Steady bass notes ripple across the floor to me. The singer wants to live a free life, unhassled. I know his feelings. They are my feelings, too. Everything is right when I’m listening to my records. It’s as if the musicians understand me, and I understand them.
Not like Mom and Dad—they don’t know what my ideas are. Or at school—the teachers do all the talking. They never listen to us. They would all be surprised to know how I really feel.
So every day it’s the same. I come straight home from school.
“What did you learn today?”
There, that’s out of the way. Now up the stairs, two steps at a time, to my room. My music. I shut the door. My world. I spend most of my time here, listening to my records, sharing thoughts and feelings with the singers and musicians. Sometimes we get all charged up about changing the world; sometimes we’re depressed at how hopeless it all seems.
We look out at the world as it really is, but the world doesn’t look in at how we really are. They call us kids, but inside we feel old beyond our years. Injustice, freedom, love, pressure, getting together about the environment—these are what we care about. But adults don’t take us seriously, so we communicate our own way in our own world.
Are you a young person who feels something like this? Do your emotions and strong feelings churn inside you? Are you frustrated because you think adults show little interest in your real feelings? How have you dealt with this frustration? Maybe you have felt confused, and so you’ve withdrawn from the adults in your life, spending many hours isolated with your music and maybe a close friend. Why do you think it’s so hard for many adults and young people to talk together about their real feelings?
Growing Up: Physically and Another Way
You are changing. You aren’t a child anymore. Your body is well on the way to its final form as a mature man or woman. It may seem that almost overnight you added several inches to your height. Extra body hair sprouted like crabgrass, and you suddenly developed sexually. Tremendous physical changes have overtaken you.
During this spurt of physical development one of your parents or some other adult whom you are close to may have shared the facts of life with you. It was helpful to find this out. You needed to know this was all normal, that you are not the only one it happens to.
But as outstanding as these external changes are, other changes as great or greater have been happening to you that affect your personality. About this same time you also began maturing emotionally. This kind of growing is just as real and often just as fast, but it takes place below the surface where others cannot see.
While people may notice your outward growth and mention it freely, what is happening to you on the inside is really making you a different person. For others to continue to know you well as you grow up, they will have to spend time talking with you, and you will have to be open with them. People often neglect to pay a proportionate amount of attention to a young person’s inward development.
Shifting Gears Emotionally
At this time in life young hearts erupt and gush a whole torrent of new, deep-felt concerns, things they rarely considered as a child. The meaning and purpose of life, questions about the future, interest in the opposite sex, an acute sense of fairness and justice, compassion toward those who are deprived in the world. Are these issues foaming inside you?
Did you realize that these issues dawn pretty much the same in many during their teen-age years? It is true. They are very personal to you, but many other persons about your age are feeling just what you feel inside. This emotional awakening is just as universal as the physical changes of puberty. Had you thought of that? Or did you think that these new feelings were yours alone?
Well, see if this makes sense to you:
A young man’s first shave is no casual affair. He likely views it as a turning point in his life, so he gets thoroughly absorbed in the act. It’s thrilling for him. But because this event is so meaningful to him would he be right in thinking that no one else has ever known or could ever know exactly how he feels inside? Every man who has ever shaved had a first shave, didn’t he? And someday all the little brothers will have their first shave, too. It’s no doubt a special time for each one but hardly a new or different experience for the male gender. Can you apply this illustration to the way a young person might realistically view his own emotional development?
When you stop and think about it, isn’t it quite reasonable that we humans generally pass through the same basic steps of growth as we progress from childhood to adulthood? Our feelings during the adolescent years can be deeply personal and private, but they are not unique to us; they are just part of the human chemistry during this period of our life.
Does Growing Up Emotionally Make You an Adult?
So now your emotions have shot ahead to grown-up interests. Does that mean you are fully mature? Well, it would be proper for adults to acknowledge and appreciate your progress, but should you expect them to view you now as completely adult, an equal in every way?
Actually your experience in living is still quite limited. While you are beginning to feel the way adults do, you cannot always think as an adult does. You haven’t lived that long so you haven’t had the time to acquire background knowledge about many of life’s ins and outs.
It will not always be this way. In fact, this chapter in your life has only a few pages. Your experience in living and the wisdom that comes with it will catch up to and even pass that early emotional spurt—just as the tortoise eventually outdistanced the hare. But until then you will do well to recognize how strong an influence this emotional arousal can be having on you.
Emotions and the Communication Problem
A young person’s feelings quickly become involved and direct him in matters. He tends to feel out his response more than to think it out. Youths are often quick to want to change things. Because of not knowing all the complex factors involved in an issue they may tend toward an oversimplified view. That’s not to say that every young person fits right into a neat category, but this is a trait that can be generally observed. Youths may have little patience with ways they feel are slow or outdated and may easily reach the point of exasperation.
Such thinking can cause them to lose proper respect for parents, teachers and other adults. Then they retreat from the real world into one more to their own liking—a dream world. Can you see why this would be to your loss if you are a young person? If at the very time you are ready to start gaining wisdom in life you isolate yourself from those who have wisdom and are qualified to help you, how would you be benefited?
More than that, your parents are not merely qualified to help you; they want to help you. They love you just as they always have. They are not changing; you are. They have no desire to isolate themselves from you. Was it your parents who banished you to listening to records in your bedroom with the door closed, or did you choose to isolate yourself?
Joining In Again
Maybe after thinking about it you can see that a little rift has appeared between you and your folks. Not that either of you meant for it to happen—it just did. But how can you undo it? Well, it really shouldn’t be that hard at all. It’s not as if you are trying to make peace with an enemy.
Start a conversation with one of your parents, perhaps your father. Tell him what you are doing in school. Ask his opinion on something and then share your views with him. Or, express an interest in things you know are meaningful to him. Do something together. Ask him to help you finish a job or offer to help him in one of his. Go to your parents with your questions about life.
Now, you won’t always agree with the decisions made by your parents, but keep in mind that you are at a point in life when your makeup is long on feeling but short on experience. They stood in your shoes some time ago but now they have gone far beyond anything you have felt or done. Hopefully, they can help you grow wise and advise you well as you develop good personal judgment. Do you remember this proverb: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise”? Try walking close to your parents and see whether it will help you to keep from overreacting to your emotional pangs and urges.—Prov. 13:20.
In these critical times not all parents really care about their children. Hopefully your parents do and will be glad to have you around. You may provide a spark that helps to keep them interested in life. You will still enjoy your music and that’s fine—but don’t let it induce you to withdraw yourself from pleasant association with your parents.
The companies that record and produce music today are well aware that young people are sensitive. They know what kind of songs to push in order to capture your attention and, they hope, your money. Don’t be manipulated in this way. Be yourself. Know where to draw the line. Don’t isolate yourself. “One isolating himself,” the Bible says, “will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.”—Prov. 18:1.
If you have gotten into the habit of withdrawing from your parents, why not try out another way of dealing with them? Give it a chance. See if you like life better this way. The next time you feel tempted to steal away to your bedroom and your records, stick around, join in things instead. Contribute to the group. Will you be glad you made the effort? Will your parents? Perhaps you’ll all be glad. If you have been withdrawn, they very likely will be glad to draw you in.