“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then” – Alice in Wonderland written by Lewis Carroll.
We adults have had our ups and downs dealing with so much change, confusion and disruption. Our children, and I’m meaning our early to late teens are just as, if not more confused and uncertain.
Do you remember Alice in Wonderland written by Lewis Carroll? It’s one of my favourite childhood books and movies. All the antics, colourful characters and craziness with mad hatter tea parties and a smoking cat. I remember laughing at the fun and found it a little scary in places too.
What I’ve since learnt is that this story has had the scientific community analyse and write papers, articles etc on what they say contains ‘some hidden truths about the human mind’ that is still inspiring neuroscientists today. Simply, it’s a story about growing up and self-identity. Knowing whom oneself is as we start to navigate the ‘adult world’ and live by all the values and unspoken rules that we adults have made up to survive in relationships and social interactions.
As adults we have egos and bad habits that are completely unreasonable at times, even unjust, just as Alice found in Wonderland. The nonsense rules placed on her by the characters, who Alice considers to be just like adults in her real world.
Each character Alice meets forces her to identify herself according to that character’s view of the world – through their eyes – so they can understand who she is. Not vice versa.
Yet Alice is just a girl, on the threshold of maturing and growing into a young lady and she hasn’t quite figured herself out yet. She feels like she has changed several times since her journey started down the rabbit hole. She is doubtful and questioning her maturing self. In the story she’s growing shrinking, changing….and when asked by the Caterpillar “who is she” poor Alice can’t answer as she feels she has changed several times during that morning.
Growing up is inevitable with its rite of passage including the difficulties of surging hormones and relationships. Now add to this, ours and their current world has been turned upside down…down the rabbit hole with the virus, social distancing, no social gatherings, no school or normality as it was.
More than ever we need to support our teens as they morph into their grown identities and try to ensure they are secure and safe in a world gone mad. To see them and acknowledge them as they navigate their way into their futures and as the White Queen illustrated, “you need to project yourself forward to work out the best course of action”.