Last night I accompanied my woman to her sociology class. It was called “Canadian Adolescent Issues” and it studied the phenomenon of the teenager. I use the term “phenomenon” deliberately because the professor described teenagers as a by-product of the schooling system which keeps kids in the edumucation system until they are legally adults. Anyhow, the topic lectured upon last night was “self-consciousness,” and its actually a lot more complex than I thought. You see, while kids might get shy and overwhelmed if put up on stage in front of people, it can’t properly be called self-consciousness (SC). Proper SC requires the knowledge that other people have selves which differ from our own. Kids think everyone is more or less like them (everyone likes chocolate milk, etc…) and have no concept that people are different consciousnesses.
As they get older and get a clue not only do they realize that people are different but by association they also reason that people may be (are) judging them. This matters to them. A four-year-old has no clue that people might think less of him for his tantrums and if he did he probably wouldn’t care. A fourteen-year-old on the other hand is the polar opposite, scrutinizing the self which he portrays to the world in depth to the point where it becomes stupid (Would ebony or cobalt mascara make me look deeper and edgier?).
But I digress. As the professor continued, one point among all others caught my attention; the double-edged razor of maturity. In his words, it was good to the extent that it helped people be respectful, and compassionate, but often maturity requires people let go of their justifiable anger in order to conform. Essentially, if you want to get ahead in this world and become a productive member of society you must, to some extent, resign yourself to the injustice you see but which is integral to how the system works (I call it “selling your soul”). Herein lies my problem; I haven’t been able to let go of this anger.
But then my development didn’t follow the model he presented in class. Unlike the typical teenager he described, I didn’t start to really doubt myself until I was about 18 and I didn’t start to doubt that the world was essentially just until I was 22 or 23. Now, I can’t stop doubting it.
Frankly, I know how much this anger affects me; my woman remarks often that I have to let shit go and stop dwelling on things that I can’t change. For my part I refuse to accept that and get annoyed when someone presumes to tell me that I can’t change things for the better. My struggle for the longest time has been trying to figure out what I can do to effect the change I want to see and thus far I have been at a loss. My only idea at this point is that the mindsets of people have to be changed first, because very few believe in a better way.
I make no secret of the fact that I am an idealist and the way I see it we shouldn’t settle for a world that is “good enough” when we could have the best world possible (it’s the same logic I have with dating and relationships). So even though it causes me no shortage of pained thoughts and sadness, I hope I never lose my justifiable anger. It’s the one thing I’ve got.