There’s a lot that encompasses coming of age.
Realistically it’s more like a process than a moment. How do the coming of age stories of young men differ? Do we have enough solid stories of young men learning and caring about themselves and others as they navigate through the world or is there only an emphasis on them losing their virginity as well. Are they interested in goals and growing in character? How do they treat the women around them? What are young men learning from the media or from their families?
I can understand the fixation of loss of virginity in the movies because sex seems to be a motivating force behind a few things in life. But I wonder if this is a focus because it’s all we are fed with.
I’d like to see more girl stories that allow young ones to expect to grow up with a spectrum of experiences. They should be full of emotions from the pinnacles and lows in life that center around more than just her relationships with guys.
What about her future, family relationships, her spiritual life?
I could probably be called a hypocrite here because I am a hopeless romantic. I can’t resist a good rom-com or a story about young love. I’m a sucker for cute teen movies even though I’m forty now! I’m not saying these things shouldn’t exist, only that those that create coming of age stories need to stop tossing in these moments lightly. If they keep making similar movies then we should have an awareness of the gravity of the messages we and our youth are receiving.
I think about my own coming of age story that didn’t involve losing my virginity. I was one of those girls that really relished being a kid and tried to avoid things that would complicate my life. The best moments of my life were spent playing outside for hours or locked in my room devouring stacks of books. I’d regularly stay awake reading all night and then sleep in and begin reading all day. My mom once joked that she’d never get me a mini-fridge or a TV for my room because she’d never see me again. She was probably right.
My own coming of age story was filled with navigating family dynamics, dealing with childhood pain and rejection, hurting and loving my friends, forgiving them, receiving forgiveness and learning what real love looked like. I journeyed through self-awareness, acceptance, and held tightly to fun and play. I examined the world around me. That was my story, I think it makes sense now considering what I do for a living. Working with youth is rewarding. I enjoy seeing the world through their choices and wondering what they will do next with the power they have as the main character in their story.
There is so much involved in the life of a girl to young woman. So many pieces to her becoming a part of the world around her. I just want that to be reflected in what girls see in the movies. Let them slow down and first experience the freedom in shaping their own unique story, knowing that even if they don’t fit in now that their lives are valuable and still make sense. Let them have confidence there is nothing wrong with them if they choose to live a narrative that’s different.
What were the components of your coming of age story? Feel free to comment I’d love to read your responses.