Navigating the complex set of rules and expectations that take us through life unscathed is never easy, especially when those rules and expectations are constantly changing. Never are we more subject to these changing rules and expectations than in our teenage years. We are caught -- no longer children, but not yet adults. We want the freedom of adults, but don't always have the tools or wisdom to do so. We want adult relationships, independence, freedom, responsibility; we are still confined by the rules of childhood, and desperate to break them. Although many of them won't ever change (don't lie, don't steal, don't cheat, always say please and thank you), the teenage years come with unique rules, some of which seem to be broken daily by the adults around us.
Although most adults would agree that some things are a natural and healthy part of adult life, most of those same adults would probably make rules against their teenager doing these things. Just the other day, I heard my stepmother very matter-of-factly state that sex was "a natural part of life" and my father agreed. However, when the topic of sex comes up with regards to their teenage children, it is always met with a firm "you had better not be doing that." However, in a short year and a half, I will be in college in a different state. At this point, I will be essentially living as an adult and no one would be surprised if I stayed out past midnight or if a relationship, at that point, included having sex.
As I get older, I realize that we teenagers face a difficult challenge -- we are supposed to break these rules. We are supposed to lift these restrictions and venture out into the world to become adults. We are told "no" but, at some point, we have to forge on, and prove to our parents and ourselves that we can handle life -- that we can make our own paths and still turn out okay.
While sometimes these years of change are exceedingly difficult, we also have to remember that our parents are people, too. No one handed our mothers and fathers a list of steps to raise the perfect child. We come with no manual, and our parents get just as scared as we do. They cannot always be consistent or logical; after all, they are acting to protect the people they love the most in this world. The goal of our adolescence, however difficult, is to prove to our parents that they succeeded; that they raised healthy, intelligent human beings who are courageous enough to overcome life's incredible obstacles and aware enough to appreciate its great beauty.