The Journey to Adulthood: From Teenage Rebellion to Responsibility

I had a client who was in adolescence. When I first met him, he was wearing a pair of ripped jeans and had long hair like a rock singer. He told me a lot about his anger at this society. For example, he feels that the adults around him are hypocritical and snobbish, they only know to let him study hard, but they never care about what kind of person he is. I asked him what he wanted to do in the future, he hesitated and said he wanted to study art.
   Later, our contact was cut off. The second time I met him was three years later, and he was already studying in an art school abroad. He asked me how to reduce stress.
   I was very surprised and asked him about his experience in the past few years. It turned out that his father saw that he was not motivated, so he sent him to learn painting, thinking that this was a shortcut for the exam. In the process of learning to paint, he met an art teacher. He admired the teacher very much, and the teacher treated him very well, firmly believed that he was very talented, and encouraged him to study English well and go to an art school in the United States. The teacher said to him: “You feel lonely now because there are no young people with ideas like you around you, just wait for you to go to that school.” The teacher also said: “An artist will have a lot of ideas, the key is to learn A way of self-expression.”
   After studying art for more than a year, he really went to an art school to study design, and met many young people similar to himself. These maverick young people let him find a sense of belonging. At the same time, he began to seriously study professional knowledge and participate in competitions. He came to me for consultation because he was under a lot of academic pressure, and he often did his homework until two or three o’clock in the morning.
   I asked him, “Don’t you think this society is unfair? Don’t you think that studying and working are meaningless? Then why work so hard?” He seemed to have forgotten
   what happened back then, and said, “Yeah, I also feel that this society is unfair now. It’s not fair, but I just do my own thing.”
   This simple sentence represents a major change in his thinking. The “enemies” he had imagined before, such as “social injustice” and “the adult world is very hypocritical”, collapsed. From now on, even if there are enemies, they are real enemies like “heavy homework”.
   The words “I’ll just do my own thing” show that he has realized two important truths. First of all, he needs to be responsible for his own life. No matter how much he complains about the unfairness of the society and rebels against the society, it will not change this fact. Secondly, even if he is dissatisfied with the values ​​of mainstream society, he must focus on doing his own thing well. At this time, he developed a rare ability-to be able to accommodate contradictions and cultivate loyalty to himself in this contradiction. This kind of loyalty is very solid and does not need to be confirmed by obedience or rebellion, only the contradiction needs to be accommodated.
   I believe that the hallmark of a person’s identity is taking responsibility for himself and learning to tolerate contradictions.
   After obtaining a stable identity, he will not pay too much attention to himself and care too much about the evaluation of others, but gradually overcome the self-centered psychology of adolescence and begin to participate in the real adult society.
   At the end of the consultation, I shook hands with him and said, “Welcome to the adult world!”

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