Something I see quite often with the higher education students I’m around is a loss of confidence in themselves.
On the surface they appear to be growing, both physically and mentally, but underneath not all is well. Most I see come straight from school, teenagers, where they have worked themselves up to ‘top-dog’ position within their own school hierarchy. They come in to start their degree courses and it’s all new and novel. For many it’s the first time they’ve truly been away from parental control! This is all something different to be explored, they’re often a bit nervous but it’s still really exciting. This is at the start, what about at the end.
The courses I see them do typically last five years, so having come in full of the joys of proverbial youth they are leaving as adults. Maybe relatively young adults, but still very much adults.
They’ve grown up!
Sometimes this transition into adulthood can happen quite quickly. I’ve seen students I’d class as teenagers at the start of a semester, but by the end, 12 weeks later, I realise I’m talking to an adult. That’s a fast change! More usually it’s a gentle development spread over three or four years. However for some it can cause problems.
As they start to grow up there is the realisation and appreciation that their actions do have consequences, and in turn other people’s actions have consequences upon them. Things you did as a teenager would just be passed off as a bit of fun, as a bit of youthful exuberance. It really didn’t matter as tomorrow would be another day and yesterday would soon be forgotten. Now however those same actions are viewed differently, you are being held responsible for your behaviour in the same way that you now hold others responsible for their behaviour. So there develops a need to gain the approval and acceptance from others of what you’re doing, you can’t just brush things off as if they don’t matter.
For some this is just part of growing up. For others it can make them stop and question what they did before, and this in turn lead to uncertainty as to what they are doing now. When 17 or 18 I thought I was reasonably grown up and mature, but looking back I can see I really wasn’t. How could I have had that attitude then, but I currently now think I’m ‘gown up and mature’, so in reality are my current activities of similar worthlessness?
What about the future? As a teenager I saw the future as just something out there, for tomorrow, not now; but ‘now’ has arrived and there’s uncertainty as to what will happen tomorrow. (All through education you had a fair idea where you would be this time next year – back in the class room; but once you get into final year, where will you be in 12 months’ time – you will not be here!)
For some this can lead to a crisis of confidence in themselves. Where are they going and what do they want to do with themselves. Uncertainty which in turn can lead to depression; a mix of not knowing and what’s the point anyway. Usually by the time it comes to them leaving with their degrees most have developed enough to get a workable amount of control back into their lives. For others though, uncertainty can remain. However in current society showing ‘weakness’ is itself seen as being weak, so up go the false walls and barriers.
But like it or not, it is eventually time for them to move on, life does not stand still. Whatever happens, you just have to do the best you can to suit whatever situation you find yourself in. That’s life!