Who Am I? The Power of Self-Invention During the Teen Years
The Children’s Book Review presents a guest post by Lauren McLaughlin, who is currently on “blog-tour”. She spent 10 years in the film industry as a writer and producer before following her dream to write fiction full time. You can learn more about Lauren by visiting her website and following her on Twitter: www.laurenmclaughlin.net, http://twitter.com/LaurenMcWoof.
The thing I remember most clearly about my own teen years (other than some cringingly awful eighties hair styles) is the way that identity was an active pursuit. Nowadays, as an adult, I don’t think about my identity. I take it for granted. When I meet someone my own age who’s still struggling with the question: “who am I?” I tend to find them annoying and immature. But teenagers genuinely don’t know who they are yet, because they’re still in the process of inventing themselves. This is a thrilling time, a period when a young person is free to delete unappealing character traits, eliminate tired habits, and invent a sparkling new persona. But it’s also a period fraught with hazards and heartbreaks. What if people don’t like the new me? What if I can’t pull it off? Which me should I try to be today?
In my novels, Cycler and (Re)Cycler, I explore both the creative and destructive power of self-invention. Seventeen-year-old Jill McTeague has a strange medical condition. Four days out of every month, she turns into a boy―complete with all the parts. In an attempt to fit in among her more conventionally gendered peers, Jill decides to repress her male persona, literally locking him in the bedroom during his four-day phase. In this way, she re-invents herself as a “normal” teenage girl.
As Jack and Jill struggle for control of the same body, it becomes clear that self-invention has its limits. Jack won’t go away. Nor will Jill. If they’re going to have any kind of a life, they’ll have to learn to accept each other somehow.
But isn’t this something we all have to learn? We may want to be like the perfect and beautiful people we admire. We may aspire to become elegant, flawless creatures. But we can never fully repress those quirks and details that make us unique. And sometimes those inconvenient quirks and details represent our best selves. That doesn’t mean we should give up on self-invention―especially as teenagers. But it does mean we should approach the task with a degree of humility and an understanding that we are not fully in control of the proceedings. Sometimes the inconvenient Jack within will have the final say.
Follow Lauren on her blog tour as she answers more questions and guest blogs at http://bookchicclub.blogspot.com/.
To ask Lauren questions or chat with other fans please visit her on RandomBuzzer.com. The direct link to the forum is: http://www.randombuzzers.com/forums/topic/102895/#post_102895
The complete tour schedule:
11/9-11/13: RandomBuzzers.com: www.RandomBuzzers.com
11/15 The Page Flipper— http://thepageflipper.blogspot.com/
11/16 Cheryl Rainfield Reviews—http://www.cherylrainfield.com/teen-books.html
11/17 The Children’s Book Review—https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/
11/20 Y Pulse—http://www.ypulse.com/wordpress/wordpress/category/book-publishing
11/21-11/22- RandomBuzzers.com http://www.randombuzzers.com/forums/topic/102895/#post_102895