A Self-Portrait

My first youth rendering centers around A Self-Portrait by Lasse Gjertsen which in my opinion represents not only a philosophical exploration of the question “Who am I?”, but also illustrates a critical reflection of modern youth’s struggle to find their place in the world.

This video came to mind as I was reading Changes in the transition to adulthood in the UK and Canada: the role of structure and agency in emerging adulthood by James Côté a & John M. Bynner. The article seeks to critique the notion of a new developmental stage termed emerging adulthood as put forward by Jeffery Arnett. Arnett uses the term emerging adulthood to describe what he believes to be a new phase of development in the early to mid-twenties of today’s youth which is characterized by a prolonged transition to adulthood.  Both James Côté a & John M. Bynner disagree with Arnett’s psychological free-choice model because although they recognize the emergence of this new cohort of adolescence they disagree fundamentally as to the reasons behind this formation which they attribute to be socio-economic in nature.

When discussing the social changes which have impacted modern youth the authors state “Faced with the prospects of navigating their way into a society that provides fewer agreed-upon rules and a lower consensus regarding appropriate behavior, young people must take up this void in meaning in their own way.”

This got me thinking about my own experiences in high school and those I have observed in my students. These formative years represent a time for many of our students where a journey of self discovery is undertaken and they begin to ask questions of their instructors, their peers, and themselves. I feel that this is significant because the way each of these students answers these questions will impact the decisions they will make in the future and ultimately they will have to decide for themselves what they want to get out of life.

One of the students mentioned in this article puts it best when she relates:

“Sometimes, when I look out across the wide expanse that is my future, I can see beyond the void. I realize that having nothing ahead to count on means I now have to count on myself; that having no direction means forging one of my own.” (Arnett, 2000, p. 469)

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