By Soleil Miller, Writer
Growing up is like getting a new glasses prescription. The fresh lenses allow us to view the world in a clearer, more in-depth picture. As we age, our level of consciousness grows with us.
The newfound perception that is gained through adolescence is the ability to be knowledgeable about feelings and emotions whether they are ours or others’. This enlightenment gives us the ability to be wise in a worldly way.
This new perceptive knowledge can be both good and bad as, “[it] is an overwhelming thing, having this greater understanding,” observed Mrs. Popper, a guidance counselor at New Paltz High School, “but it is good as it allows you to be a better empath.”
Growing up and growing your consciousness can feel like two separate things; especially if you are exploring it in an overly philosophical way. However, if we are to look at it simply, growing up and maturing are one in the same. Besides the physical matters of growing up, the real advancement into adulthood is growing our consciousness; a person’s maturity increases due to their greater awareness of themselves, the world, and others. Growing your consciousness is inescapable.
A 17-year-old New Paltz High School student remarked that this has allowed him to, “become more in touch with myself, and this awareness has helped me become more able to help myself when I am feeling down.”
His sentiments illustrate how the ability to view himself and his mind, in an even slightly clearer picture, has given him the tools to, “see ways that I make myself sad, and then how to move out of those old ways.”
This is an olive-branch extended from our self-deprecating sides to our compassionate sides, allowing growth to take place. Also connecting with the reasoning that this way of understanding ourselves, allows us to develop in a healthier way.
“Overall I feel less anxiety. And I used to have a really hard time making decisions, like ‘Do I want a cheeseburger or hamburger?’” reflects a 51-year-old woman, “that would paralyze me of what would be the right decision but now I don’t have that indecision that I used to have.”
On a personal level, our awareness of ourselves exponentially grows, internally and externally. This maturing is crucial in every person’s development as it is the basis for a newer, more cognizant way of thinking which can present itself differently in everyone. Like the previous respondent was insinuating, a heightened level of consciousness can lessen mental struggles such as indecision.
As well, this gaining of internal consciousness helps develop those in their adolescent stage of life to eventually have a more mature, adult way of thinking. This even translates to their views of others; an increase in awareness directly helps teenagers begin to understand others better. Becoming more aware of oneself opens your eyes to seeing not just what someone is trying to present to you, but it shows you the underlying truths as well. From this we can have a stronger sense of what others feel, and when forgiveness is worthy. This newfound consciousness creates a more empathetic individual.
Some question whether or not highschool is a beneficial place to help promote the aforementioned, sentient growth; Popper argues that, “high school is a very sheltering environment for its students,” but once they have moved past it, we are better able to have that growth and understanding of the world around us.
After being on the earth for over half a century, a female interviewee observed, “I can now see all sides of a situation or all the sides of a person.”
This clarity has given her a more worldly view and it discourages her from making flash judgements when presented with a new person or situation. A developed awareness of the world allows you to better understand it, describe it, and therefore have a greater contribution to the world.
“It is inevitable that I experienced this, and that you experience this, and that this growth is experienced by the whole world,” states a 17-year-old high school senior, “This is a step in the direction of human life that will be taken no matter whether it is deemed positive or not. The inevitability of this alludes to the fact that it is positive and the growth of one’s consciousness is necessary for humans to survive and improve our quality of life as a whole.”
If no one was self-aware in this world, we would lack empathy, intelligence, and kindness. Thankfully, our life experiences help teach us these important qualities and as we age, we can strengthen them, and become better at using them, and at teaching others these lessons.
The period of enlightenment we undergo throughout adolescence and beyond is an eye-opening time for a person. We are becoming more aware of ourselves with our internal thoughts and feelings, others with their emotions or needs, and the world as a whole with its vastness and giant possibilities. This new information and increased awareness helps bring the world around us into focus. Growing up is the same as growing our consciousnesses; they both let us see with a clearer prescription.
“Growing up can be overwhelming,” expresses Popper, “but, even starting on a community level, it can be helpful and be a good teacher of empathy.”