Is life harder as a teen than as an adult? I get asked this question a lot, both by teens themselves and by parents. At first glance it can be hard for people to understand why life just seems so much harder during teenage years.
There is a lot of psychology behind what's happening during this period in life that explains just why things may seem so hard.
1. Lack of Identity – As an adult you probably know who you are, what you stand for, the choices and major decisions that you have decided to stand behind. Call it morals or ethics. Its a sense of identity, these things become who we are. As a teen we haven't yet figured out who we are or who we want to be. This means that when something bad happens in our lives we don't have the confidence of knowing we are doing the right thing – we have no sense of personal identity to assure us that we are on the right path.
2. Lack of Support – While most teens do have support at home from at least one parent and siblings, the type of support we get as adults tends to be different. Loving spouses and lifelong friends provide a level of care, support, and unbiased non-judgemental support that family members usually can't provide.
3. Lack of Experience – As adults, when we feel bad, sad, or depressed, chances are we have felt this way before. Having already experienced this mood state helps prepare us for dealing with it again. It also helps us identify the emotions and behaviors more quickly than in teens who are experiencing them for the first time.
4. Magnification – As teens, our lives tend to seem over-magnified. The lives of those around us seem like the entire world. This is part of the individuation process where we learn our own boundaries and grow into the larger world around us. With a magnified view of their social and personal lives, mistakes and other negative events can feel exaggerated and more powerful than when the same things happen as adults.
5. Peer Pressure – Look on any playground in the world and you will see kids who fit in with the crowd and kids who don't. And what will you see happening to the kids who don't quite fit in? Bullying, negativity, and peer pressure. Rarely as adults will you again be surrounded by so many peers, all of which are constantly judging you.
Feel like your life or the life of your loved one is harder than it needs to be? Let us know how we can help. Start by making your first free appointment with a counselor.
Written by Brad Messenger, LMSW.