Saturday, October 18, 2008

Adolescent Experiences... the paper

I have been very busy today finishing up my school work that is due this week. One of the classes wanted us to write about adolescent experiences and I enjoyed what I wrote even though I did not want to ever actually write it. Since I liked the end result, I am sharing it. Here is what the assignment was:

3. Adolescent Experience Paper, Part I: Think back to your early adolescent years, during grades 6 – 8. Based on your assigned readings for Week One, write a 350-700-word paper describing three experiences (transitions) that could be labeled as the following:
a. Biological
b. Cognitive
c. Social
For each experience, describe the effect on you. Was it positive or negative? Has that interpretation changed over the years?

Here is my interpretation:

Adolescent Experience: Part 1
Michael Williams
University of Phoenix

I do not look back on these years and have a great level of clarity. I remember it was awkward but I do not entirely remember why. So this assignment has definitely given me some pause. At first I despaired that all of my memories were beyond my reach so I called on a friend to help jog my memory. This long time friend definitely jogged my memory and quite a few laughs were had at both of our expenses. This is the result of our mutual remembrances.

We begin with something that would definitely lend itself to the social realm of an adolescent’s development. It also highlights a shift in thinking about girls, which means it also dabbles in the cognitive development realm. Yes, I no longer felt free to shove a girl off the jungle gym to get ahead of her but my new feelings were not completely clear. The female half of the population had become somehow intriguing, utterly incomprehensible and truly terrifying. As I understand, there is an intense need to socialize with peers during adolescence but not everyone is gifted enough to do so smoothly. I was far from smooth and tended to stick close to friends when I was in social situations. I remember one particular time that my best friends and I went to our first dance. The three of us were holding up the wall fairly well, daring each other to talk to the young ladies who unknowingly struck fear and longing to the very core of our beings. As we stood there, wasting time trying to goad each other into making the first move, the poor girls were forced to also sit and wait. I am sure that none of them wanted to become a social outcast by asking a boy to dance, which meant they had to wait for us to gather our courage. Finally I decided to take that first step. I asked a girl to dance and she immediately said yes, much to my relief. I had taken what I believed to be the first and hardest step and I was now dancing with a cute girl. It was the most frightening and awkward dance I have ever been a part of. I just lightly held her, unsure where to put my hands, attempting to think about baseball (not that I knew anything about baseball) and swayed back and forth like a robot from a bad 1950’s sci-fi flick. We didn’t speak nor did we make much eye contact either. All my bravado and convoluted planning had been focused on getting her to dance with me, not the actual dancing part. When the longest song on earth finally ended, I bolted back to my friends. In my haste to find the security of insecure male bonding I probably sent a very confusing message to the girl. I won’t even attempt to decipher what my hasty departure meant to her but I am sure it was as awkward for her as the asking and dancing had been for me. I then spent the rest of the time daring my friends to take the plunge but managing to feel completely relieved that I had “made a move.” I still remember that first dance as a great adventure although I look upon it now and see how silly I truly was.

My voice changing was the biological development that I clearly recall. I am not sure when it happened or how long it took but it could not end fast enough. I was embarrassed and people’s reactions didn’t help. Whether it was an amused glance or an escaped giggle it sent heat through my cheeks turning them deep scarlet. What I wanted to do was not speak ever again but that is not an option. Knowing that the voice change was just a part of growing up was not any help at the time. I figure the best thing for an adult to do is to not react and just keep on talking with them. After all it is something natural and it should be treated that way. Of course the problem was generally with kids the same age and I am not sure how to get them to cut each other some slack. Now that I am past that stage I definitely see how a smile or giggle is also natural but try to remember that everything is “utterly and devastatingly” embarrassing at that age.

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