A couple of photos shared at a Universal Medicine event day recently got me seriously pondering on a few topics around teenagers from the past, and in today’s society. One photo was of a group of young adults from the 1960’s/70’s who looked at ease with each other, had genuine smiles on their faces, were of a healthy weight range and had a naturalness and openness in their bodies – there was no trying to ‘be anything else’ in them. The second photo was of a group of youths from today. In this photo there was a feeling of unease, a great deal of trying to ‘fit in’, to perpetuate an image, to look cool, and the biggest thing that stood out for me was the ‘to get noticed’ energy, almost in a competitive way. The feeling in both of these photos and what they depicted of the youth back then and of today were of stark contrast – quite a shock really to see so blatantly in front of my eyes.
The question came… what do we as a society today live, walk around with and consider to be ‘the norm’, when in fact it is very far from natural? The first photo felt very natural and the second photo felt like it had stepped a mile of steps away from natural. For our youth to look and feel like they do in the second photo, the lie we are living today as a whole society really, was incontrovertible when both photos were side by side. I say whole society because the teens in the second photo are a product of our society and everything with that, which is inclusive of everything from parenting, to education, to images, expectations, to ways of relating, to role models, in the ideals, beliefs and perceptions taken on by many… and the list is never ending but definitely food for thought.
As the saying goes, ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ and these photos not only spoke about what was happening in that moment in time when the camera went ‘click,’ but of the society and ‘whole of life’ around each set of youths in these past and present time periods. The teens in the first photo seemed joyful, playful, at ease within themselves and definitely with each other. It felt like they were solid, knew who they were, felt comfortable to relate and that their youth/teen/young adult years were about the building of a foundation to be steady, supportive and committed to life as adults. Yet the second photo said none of this, but did share a feeling that the teen years were a time of being ‘lost from self’ years. The youths in this photo looked and felt like they were struggling with life, unstable as in not settled and without true confidence in their bodies or selves, hence the need to try and get themselves noticed.
These photos are only 30-40 years apart, yet what they communicate about the way of life around each set of youths and our responsibility as a whole society is enormous and something for us as all to consider. The fact is that this is not something that can be turned around in a day, nor is it something that burying our heads in the sand with thinking it’s not our problem or that it will sort itself out will fix either. So then what is our responsibility in all this?
Consider the possibility that these teens of today are showing this ‘lost-ness’ and all the behaviours that go with that because that is exactly what has been reflected to them. These photos indicate that there has been a deterioration in us, humanity, one step at a time, one choice at a time, for this stark contrast to be evident. It is also true to say that the truth, naturalness and confirmation of the way back to being at ease in our bodies, of who we are, can be instilled one step at a time and with one choice at a time too.
Could it be as simple as us each taking the responsibility for ourselves – reflecting who we truly are to others, being in our joy in life, supporting ourselves and nourishing our bodies, being deeply caring in the way we relate with others, meeting our young with true love first, giving others space to be in their natural way, appreciating everything in life, confirming the truth of who we are and what we bring and living a committed and purposeful life that supports the all.
If we each took this responsibility, then how would our teens even have the space to not know and want to live their greatness? Our teens would feel fully equipped and at ease to be just who they are, with no hesitation or excuse to calibrate their grandness. We would see and feel our teens expressing in full from their hearts, in their conversations, the way they carry themselves, the sparkle in their eyes and the bounce in their step, the way they relate to and treat others, the decency and respect they would hold themselves in and therefore all others. We would feel and see the full package of Love, the greatness of who we are then also reflected back through our teens.
By Johanna Smith, Bachelor of Education (Major Special Needs, Minor Psychology), Graduate Certificate of Early Childhood, Studying Diploma of Counselling, Esoteric Complementary Health Practitioner, Woman, Teacher, Mother, Wife and Friend
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