On Growing Up

“The Untold Want
By Life And Land Ne’er Granted,
Now Voyager,
Sail Thou Forth To Seek And Find.”

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

growing-upWhen young, everyone is older. Things around us seem much more established. Life appears as something we need to grow into for acceptance. Challenges are there to teach in a slow, steady, revealing way what the world is about. Hopefully, discipline is metered with focused understanding and encouragement to learn, remain curious and explore. School plays a large part by defining the kind and substance of the world we inhabit, its physical boundaries and limitations via finite facts, by helping to construct, over time, the landscape we belong to.

At adolescence, understanding and responsibility of our own actions begin to weigh heavily as society holds individuals more accountable for acts committed. Consequences are stricter. No longer children, actions take on a different meaning, as expectations to develop goals and “find a place” within the context of larger society becomes moreapparent.

The transition from adolescence to early adulthood, surviving all the chaotic changes afforded by puberty, introduce the next step towards final “independence” from our parents and all that it entails. The emotional uncertainty and pressure to choose a way the basic patterns of our life will be lived. How we contribute our individual talents, earn a living, or define the type of family we most feel comfortable with.

Societal expectations at each stage of development has different milestones. A university student of 18-21 is given time to explore various professional goals, but the looming anticipation of having to make a choice of settling on to one is becoming ever present. The tangible evidence of maturity, accountability, judgement all begin to coalesce.

In a previous essay, On What Education Should Do, I expanded education to include “how culture, society, or a country educates the newer generations on the values it emulates.” This is the stage where it is determined whether a society has been successful in teaching those generations to be productive, or not.

“Now Voyager, Sail Thou Forth To Seek And Find.”