In previous two posts at the I.A.A.M Page we have been discussing about adolescence challenges. Introduced about the kind of growth a girl-child undergoes and we started with Physical Growth where we particularly talked about Menstrual Periods and Sexual maturity.
Today we will learn about Emotional Growth.
During the time of early adolescence, you will start undergoing emotional development which involves establishing a realistic and reasonable sense of identity in the context of relating to others. For example, you will show more interest in your appearance because you will be so considerate on how you will be looking in front of other people or comparing with other people. You may start to show more of an interest in clothes and hairstyles. Some girls of your age may even start to wear makeup. You may also start to worry more and may become more critical of yourself with mood swings. This is normal at this phase of life.
You are beginning to establish your sense of identity. Establishing a sense of identity is the central task of your adolescence. This is the first time when, like other humans, you will have the self-understanding capacity to cautiously sort through who you are and what makes you unique. Your identity refers to more than just how you see yourself right now, it also includes what has been termed as “possible-self”; meaning, what it was thought you might become and who you would like to become.
I know you might by now have started to conceptualize about yourself. You might have already established your set of beliefs about yourself; things such as your attributes (tall, bright, beautiful etc.), the roles you would like to assume, the goals to help you achieve your roles dream, interests and values. This is your Self-concept.
The self-concept you have about yourself forces you to do a self-evaluation. The result you receive after your self-evaluation results into a certain kind of feeling. This feeling is called Self-esteem.
Self-esteem develop uniquely for each individual during adolescence and there are many different forms of self-esteem during adolescence phase. Your self-esteem, whether high or low may remain relatively stable during adolescence or may steadily improve or worsen. This depends on how much you can fill the gap between your self-concept and what you believe you “should” be according to your self-concept. You therefore need to develop cognitive skills to enable you make ideal generalization about yourself.
Self-esteem has two faces and it depends on which among them has a strong influence in you. The first face is what is called “Global” self-esteem which refers to how much you like or approve of your perceived self as a whole. For example, as your body changes you will be experiencing strongly influence, either positive or negative from other people. And this mostly happens during early stages of adolescence and it is because your physical appearance tops the list of your growth developments that are easily seen by others. Comments by others particularly men, your close friends and family may become a part of your identity. This is determined by the way you will be treating their comments, meaning if you approve them within yourself then they will define you and create your identity but if you do not approve them within you then they will have no effect in defining yourself.
“Specific” self-esteem refers to how much you feel about certain parts of yourself. It is very important to identify the specific areas about yourself that you consider to be of most important to you according to your self-concept. For example, in your self-concept one of the strongest belief might be your drawing ability. And if you also believe you can sing, then you expect to be one of the best artist and singer in the future. If you have a strong belief in this then you need to start practicing drawing in every opportunity you get. Drawing is a broad field, as you often practice drawing you will come to a point where you will be able to identify the kind of drawings you are mostly interest in or best at. Practicing drawing most does not mean you cannot do something else from your self-concept, it is just a way of identifying what satisfy you most in terms of roles identification; therefore you can practice other areas that falls next to drawing in your self-concept such as singing. Practicing is a positive sign that you feel secure enough to explorer the unknown. Adolescence is a time when experimenting with alternatives is developmentally appropriate, except when it seriously threaten your health or life.
If you want to raise your self-esteem it is very important you identify the specific areas that are important to you. You need to understand that, trying to improve “Global” self-esteem is difficult but improving your self-concept in specific valued areas is both doable and contributes to “Global” self-esteem in the long-run.