Sahil Sharifdin Bhat
Teenage — It is short-lived but it leaves long-lasting marks on one’s personality. It is the happiest phase of one’s life. It is even the worst phase of one’s being. It is experimenting on one’s own self in the biggest lab called ‘the world ‘.
It is comparing and contrasting one’s physique and abilities with others and then feeling elated or dejected. It is a time of making blunders. It is a time of learning the reality of things. It is a fountain of fresh ideas. It is a deluge for age-old institutions.
It is a thrill. It is an agony. It is a forest fire. It is a morning breeze. It is a rage. It is a pleasure. It is a bucket of tears. It is a bouquet of flowers. It is a horror. It is overconfidence. It is a hungry lion. It is an innocent lamb. It is a beautiful dream. It is an ugly nightmare. It is a puzzle. It is common sense. It is a craze for friends and admirers. It is an urge for blissful solitude. It is a struggle for resembling everyone. It is a striving for looking unique. It is the beginning of a wonderful career. It is the threshold of a horrendous life. It is a harsh imprisonment. It is a cherished freedom. It is the piercing scream of a suffocated soul.
It is the sigh of relief of a liberated slave. It is a war with one’s hormones. It is surrendering to one’s baser desires unconditionally. It is a rebellion against familial, social, legal, religious and cultural restrictions. It is obedience to fashions, trends, moods and whims.
Teenage is an age of dark secrets. It is a season of hilarious scams. It is the period of doubting one’s selfless relatives. It is the period of trusting selfish strangers. It is shyness. It is insolence. It is kindness. It is savagery. It is creativity. It is foolishness. It is anarchy. It is an order. It is arrogance. It is humility. It is a breath of fresh air. It is Heaven. It is Hell. It is a revolution. It is a transformation. It is not an illusion. It is a reality. It is partly good and partly evil. This is what teenage means.
We all experience teenage. Some of us experience it early and some experience it a bit late. Some of us come out of it soon and some linger on till decades. I personally believe that it has got a little to do with years and a lot to do with one’s health, environment, attitude, aptitude and food.
Some suppress it to the best of their ability but some celebrate it wildly. I reiterate that teenage exists. It is a fact. It is a transition from childhood to adulthood. It is the time when we are no longer children and yet we are not fully adults. It is the time when we are treated like kids but we wish to play adults.
It is when we go through physical, emotional and ideological changes suddenly and rapidly. It is when we begin to imitate and emulate adults, celebrities and historical figures. It is when we yield and surrender to our desires without bothering about consequences. It is when we distance ourselves from caring relatives and drift towards unknown strangers. It is when we grow selfish, egoistic and self-centered.
In this turbulent age, we want to be seen, noticed, admired, loved and obeyed and we are desperate to violate any rule or law to meet our needs. We want rights, respect and appreciation. We want to be visible to everyone around. It hurts us deeply when we are ignored or belittled. We give up eating food to look slim and attractive.
We smoke and drink to appear cool and bold. We wear brands and jewellery to look dashing and affluent. We develop addiction to the internet by stalking our crushes or being in constant touch with our fans or searching for new devotees and followers. We prefer restaurants, clubs, cinema, resorts and parks to our school and home.
We easily hand over our passionate and emotionally charged bodies to any person of any age, colour , caste , appearance , background or region. When nobody is around, without any shame or hesitation, we resort to abominable things and tools to achieve an ephemeral sensual pleasure. We shout ferociously at our well-wishers or curse them in their back.
We want to be near our friends all the time. Chatting with friends seems more important than oxygen and meeting them sounds more significant than our studies. When we break up, we land into depression. We grow suicidal. We hurt ourselves. We behave strangely, listen to songs, watch movies and serials, compose poetry, lose sleep and hunger, cry often and pray not to wake up alive from sleep next morning.
We degrade ourselves to the lowest extent possible to persuade our friends. When teachers or elders or our mature friends advise or exhort us, we hate them and list them as our biggest enemies or hurdles in the way of our happiness and freedom. When they get angry with us, our anxiety is multiplied.
We overlook our goals. We ignore our studies. We neglect our responsibilities. We disregard tomorrow. We are obsessed with today. We fail to strike a balance between our pleasures and our duties. We all suffer from this turbulence but the wisest among us suffer silently from it and the stupidest among us make a big fuss over it.
There is no need to fear teenage. Nevertheless, there is a dire need to understand teenage and teenagers. I spend a lot of time with teens and I can see right through them. According to me, teens are untamed horses which if tamed and disciplined with love and affection will grow in value, otherwise, they will destroy themselves as well as the entire society they dwell in.
First of all, parents must stop acting like police officers and start behaving like cool friends. The least they try to know about the private life of their teenaged kid, the best relationship they will enjoy with him/her.
They don’t have to know everything about their teenaged kid but they must not neglect him/her completely. Unfortunately, the parents in the valley of Kashmir produce kids and leave them to the mercy of God. They don’t help them through their teenage; rather, expect them to behave like sensible adults.
If a teens trust his/her parents and opens up to them, he/she should be heard patiently. There is no need to grow alarmed and shocked. If the parents won’t listen, the teens will confide in strangers or speak on the social media. They may even run out of homes and thus disgrace the respective families. That is undesirable.
Don’t forget the fact that all people undergo teenage and no teen is saintly though he/she may pretend to be so. Yesterday, the parents were teens too. Tomorrow, the teens of today will be parents too. Teenage is like a flash flood. It is useless to make any attempt to stop it. It can only be directed to the right or left.
Secondly, the parents and teachers must deliver brief speeches occasionally on the changes during adolescence and teenage in the youth. Let the teens know more and more about the issues of teenage. Tell them the pure truth at home before they learn the adulterated truth in the market.
Thirdly, assign some light responsibilities to teenagers. Make them feel wanted and important. Let them know that they matter. Involve them into household chores, family issues, social activities, religious matters, national ventures and similar other useful things. They must know their future duties and responsibilities in advance.
Finally, introduce them to philosophy, literature, religion, fine arts, games and sports etc. There is a popular proverb: An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. If a teen succeeds in utilising his/her time properly, he /she will definitely create history.
Teenagers hate authority, so give them the much needed freedom. They love to talk, so listen to them. They want your attention, so do not ignore them. When they win something, appreciate them. When they lose something, encourage them. When they are happy, celebrate with them. When they are sad sympathize with them. When they are angry, tolerate them. When they are calm, advise them. When they sit idle, engage them. Love them in all seasons because ‘love conquereth all’. The good news is that like all other things in the world, teenage too is temporary and mortal.
‘It’s not the load that weighs you down, it’s the way you carry it’ (C. S. Lewis)
(The author is a teacher and teaches English language and literature)