Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Remember Well: Recalling Your Memories of Adolescence

At a wedding in 7th grade. Love the turtleneck.
Do you remember what it was like to be in junior high? In high school? In college?

I've found that most adults tend to block out this period of their life, choosing to recall vague notions of memories rather than specific moments on their timeline. Even when we can remember the specific events, it's even more difficult to recall the feelings and thought-processes we were experiencing. (E.g. in 7th grade, how did it feel to be rejected by that girl at the dance?) Yet these are some of the most life-shaping and important moments of our lives. Some of the decisions and experiences we have from junior high have truly defined us as adults.

Maybe it's a gift (or a curse) but I have some vivid memories of my adolescent experiences. I remember the anxiety, the insecurity, the idealism, the anger, the laughter, the desire to belong, the sense of loneliness, the sense of adventure, and everything in between. I remember screwing up a presentation in front of my sophomore english class, and having the entire class laugh at me, including the teacher and the girl I had a crush on. I remember climbing onto the roof of my hometown church with my friends, only to have the local neighbors call the police on us. I remember the first real crush I ever had--I blogged about it here, actually--and the feelings of rejection I experienced as a dorky 7th-grader.

I'm still fairly young, and perhaps these memories will fade over time. I hope they don't. I hope they foster a deep sense of empathy for the people I love and disciple. I hope my memories of adolescence will create emotional bridges with young people, relatable paths with signs that say, "I've been here, too." I don't want to project my own stories and experiences onto others--each individual story is uniquely shaped and structured--but I do want to remember well the feelings and experiences that shaped me into who I am today.

Remember well. It could make all the difference in your relationships.

From your teen years (ages 12-19), try to remember the following:

  • Your most embarrassing moment.
  • The first person you had a crush on.
  • The transition from junior high to high school.
  • Your three best friends. Who were they? What were they like?
  • Your favorite music/movies.
  • A time when you truly felt alone.
  • A time when you were filled with joy and excitement.
  • What was your relationship with your parents like? Your siblings?
  • Who were the three most influential people from this time period? A parent, a friend, a pastor, a teacher, a bully, etc.
If you're so bold, share a favorite memory in the comments. Maybe your story will help others remember.

1 comment:

  1. If this makes you feel better, I am 51 and all of those memories are so vivid that I just wrote a song about it and am up late searching to see if this is the normal or the exception.

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