#Parenting The War Of Words
Have we romanticized teenage angst?
Have we sentimentalized teenage loss of identity?
Have we glamorized teenage confusion?
I ask because angst, confusion, and identity are part of my journey, maybe yours too, and maybe the seventy-five-year-old living in a technologically dominated and emotionally desiccated world. Many of us find stable ground as we move into adulthood; however, for some of us, the cocktail of anger, confusion, and loneliness revisits us in waves and recedes and comes again and recedes again. It's just not you, dear teenagers.
While listening to Billie Eilish's 'Lovely' and Olivia Rodrigo's 'Brutal,' I am compelled to pay attention to the word choices of the song that hegemonizes and controls my teenager's mind and soul. The conundrum- my experience with Psychology and Vedanta informs me- you are your mind- if my privileged teenager feels anything close to broken, hopeless, and disconsolate about her existence, then I, as her mother, have reasons to worry. What you are constantly exposed to influences you, and she, therefore, is creating a story where she feels the necessity to drink the cocktail even though she has no reason to. With blithe disregard, I have overheard her blurt-I am depressed. This is killing. I'm so lost. I can die right now. It's her untrammeled soliloquy that spells trouble. If you think I am disputing her feelings, discrediting the bumps of teenage life, then let me inform you that I am not. I am mindful of her lived experience. Her words, though, are specious, and I hope she doesn't believe in them, for she has no reason to. I hope it's part of just a casual expression. I hope it comes and goes as pimples do, but what if it does not? There is no denying that what we absorb from the world, the narratives that influence us determine the quality of our thoughts and then our actions. It is equally important to recognize that our teenagers have a private life and struggles that we may be partially aware of. After all, we are not living their life. So, do we prescribe therapy( a word so common in their circle it makes me cringe)? Words have meaning and consequences, and we need to choose what we say to the world and ourselves. That's a beautiful part of growing up. It is called RESPONSIBILITY.
On a different note, I love the songs, too; I think they are poignantly beautiful.
I'm so insecure, I think
That I'll die before I drink
And I'm so caught up in the news
Of who likes me and who hates you
And I'm so tired that I might
Quit my job, start a new life
And they'd all be so disappointed
'Cause who am I, if not exploited?"
Have anyone of you felt like this at 48? I have. Judge me for my vulnerability, for my incapability to navigate life and emotions; the truth is- I appreciate the songs(To me, they are reminiscent of some of the gazals that are close to me heart- benaam sa yeh dard thethar kyun nahi jaata by Nida Fazli and Haath chute bhi to Riste nahi choota karte by Jagjit Singh, and many more). They reflect the crisis one often finds oneself in the throes of life. However, it does not belong to everyone, and I hope my teenager, and maybe yours, know how to separate fact from fiction. By not appreciating her blessedness, she risks disparaging those who are truly broken and need our support. I wonder about real people and their real scars accumulated due to dire circumstances in their lives.
Considering the singers' mass appeal, I hope it is not the chosen narrative of those to whom these songs genuinely don't belong. I hope the words don't define who they are or how they feel. Teenage life can be beautiful too. Who gets to wake up with a heady mocktail of energy, vitality, dreams, independence, confidence, and a whole life ahead to blossom.
Enjoy your song; don't make it your life. And if you truly love the music and feel for the words, reach out to those who need your support. The rest is all histrionics.
Pain is not trendy.