LAND OF DIMINISHED DREAMS
The year is two-thousand fifty -four,
The world is full of curses.
People walk the streets no more,
No women carry purses.
The name of the game is survival now-
Safety is far in the past.
Families are huge with tons of kids
In hopes that one will last
Drugs are no longer looked down on,
They are a way of life.
They help us escape the wrenching stress
Of our fast worlds endless strife…
I wake up now-it was only a dream,
But the message was terribly clear.
We ‘d better think hard about the future
Before our goals and our dreams disappear.
(Through the eyes of youth)
A rose called by any other name would smell just as sweet, wrote Shakespeare. So ,what is there in a name! But names do matter, names have their values, so does the “identity”.
Who am I ?What is my identity? Where I was born? Who are my parents? What is my socioeconomic position in society? What is my caste? What is my religion? What is my nationality? What is my education? What is my profession? All these are parameters of “identity”.
There are many issues that today’s teenagers face. Probably one of the most common is the issue of individualism or identity. The growing rate of drug addiction, juvenile crime, maladjustment, violence, unemployment, parent-child conflict are amongst the serious problems of today’s youth.
Starting the discussion of this problem I want to remind the words of God In the movie “Bruce
Almighty” , “You asked me what is a miracle….When a teenage boy says “no” to drugs and says “yes” to school that is a miracle. In modern life for most kids to say “no” to drugs may be regarded as miracle.
Soumi (name changed) is 15 years old and pregnant. She reflects, “I am 3 months pregnant. This could ruin my whole life. I have made all plans for the future and now they are down the drain. I donot have anybody to talk to about my problem.” These pregnant youths are a flaw in today’s social fabric. Like Soumi, far too many become pregnant in their earlier and middle adolescent years. Sixteen year old Jennifer (name changed) gradually eliminated foods from her diet to the point where she subsisted by eating only applesauce and eggnog. She was hospitalized and treated for Anorexia Nervosa, an eating disorder that involves the relentless pursuit of thinness through starvation. It can eventually lead to death, as it did for popular singer Karen Carpenter. In modern families, there are exchanges like this:
A fourteen year old boy tells his mother, “What do you mean I have to be home by 10 P.M.”
Mother responds :”It is the way we do things around here”
Boy replies : ” Why do we do things around here this way? How backdated Culture?”
This parent-adolescent conflict is common during this phase.
Are you unsure of your role in life? Do you feel like you do not know the “real you”? Here are a set of questions for you to answer-
1. Do you feel proud to be an Indian?
2. If there is re-birth would you like to be born as a male or female?
3. Do you feel proud to be son of your father/mother?
4. Do you prefer to solve critical problems by-
a.seeking advice from elders b. decision on your own c. help from peers
5. Which of the religions you are strongly attracted to-
a. Christianity b. Hinduism c. Muslim
6. Casteism is a curse for progress-
a. Yes b. No
7. Casteism helps to develop positive sense of self-
a. Yes b.No
8. Do you hesitate to meet people of higher (to your) socio economic status-
9. Do you feel embarrassed to mix with people of low(to your) socioeconomic status-
10. Do you think parents should criticize the failures of their children-
a. Never b. Frequently c. Seldom
11. If you are given options how frequently would you purchase-
a. garments of western style b. ethnic wear
12. If asked to give treat to your friends would you prefer-
a.Bengali dish b. Chinese dish c. Continental d. Any other
13 For which professions do you hold high respect-
14. Do you feel shy/hesitate to mix with your schoolmates who are well settled in life?
a. Always b. Sometimes c. Never
If your answer is “yes”to the previous questions, you may be experiencing an “Identity Crisis”.
Theorist Erik Erikson coined the term “Identity Crisis” and believed that it was one of the most important conflicts people face in development .It is a time of intensive analysis and exploration of different ways of looking at oneself. Erikson described “Identity” as “a subjective sense as well as an observable quality of personal sameness and continuity of some shared world image.
The emergence of an identity crisis occurs of an identity crisis occurs during teenage years in which people struggle between feelings of identity versus role confusion.
The balance between identity and confusion lies in making a commitment to an identity. There are four different identity statuses-
(a) Identity Achievement-occurs when an individual has gone through an exploration of different identities and made a commitment to one.
(b) Moratorium-is the status of a person who is actively involved in exploring different identities but has not made a commitment.
(c) Foreclosure-status is when a person has made a commitment without attempting identity exploration.
(d) Identity Diffusion-occurs when there is neither an identity crisis or commitment
Findings on a survey on youth within the age group of 18 – 31 years which included students as well as working youths-
AGE(18 – 31 years)
Domains of identity crisis Percentage Domains of identity crisis Percentage
Economic 28% Economic 32%
Personal 32% Personal 30%
Culture and Ethnic 18% Cultural and Ethnic 16%
Religious 12% Religious 10%
Nationality 10% Nationality 12%
AGE(18 – 31 years)
Domains on Identity Statuses Percentage Domains on Identity Statuses Percentage
Identity Achievement 28% Identity Achievement 45%
Moratorium 30% Moratorium 28%
Foreclosure 18% Foreclosure 12%
Identity Diffusion 24% Identity Diffusion 15%
It has been found that those who have made a strong commitment to an identity tend to be happier and healthier than those who have not. Those with a status of identity diffusion tend to feel out of place in the world and don’t pursue a sense of identity.
Some strategies to reduce this problem
o Understand the importance of autonomy and attachment
o Keep parent-adolescent conflict from being turbulent and use good communication skills with the adolescent
o Recognize the importance of peers, youth organizations and mentors
o Help youth better understand the nature of differences, diversity and value conflicts
o Let youth explore their identity.
In today’s rapidly changing world, identity crisis are more common today. Exploring different aspects of oneself in the different areas of life, including one’s role at work, within the family and in relationships can help strengthen personal identity.