Teenage Wisdom

The teenage years are infamous-books, movies, and songs have been dedicated to the perils of this age of maturity. They are a time of growth spurts and raging hormones; a time of fearlessness and self-consciousness; a time of intellectual curiosity and lack of judgment. The teen years are marked by acne pocked faces and awkward social graces. They possess furious anger, elevated enthusiasm, and they confuse love with an abundance of sexual magnetism. Their moods swing from high to low within minutes.

Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra’s images capture the enigmatic teenage spirit, in my opinion, better than any other contemporary artist. Her portraits expose the dichotomy of teenage emotions. Her subjects appear both self-assured and vulnerable at the same time.

I can often find insightfulness in watching teen flicks. They provide lighthearted and thoughtful entertainment, and every now and then, I can find words of wisdom, life lessons, and like Aesop’s fables, a good moralistic ending. For example, Dakota Skye. In this sophomoric love story there are lessons for all ages and the soundtrack is pretty darn good.

The protagonist, 18-year old Dakota believes she has a super power-an ability to read between the lines and know when a person is saying one thing and thinking another. Basically, she believes she is a human lie detector. It makes one wonder, why is the truth so hard to hear and even harder to speak. Based on what she has learned during her high school years, she expresses a profound litany, a philosophical list of her ‘truths’ or realities.


doesn’t always mean boring.

Lust doesn’t always mean love.

Near doesn’t always mean close.

New doesn’t always mean exciting.

Different doesn’t always mean better.

Far doesn’t always mean distant.

Knowing everything

doesn’t make you wise.

Knowing the truth

doesn’t make you superior.

Knowing your problem

doesn’t solve it.

Sitting between

your past and your future

doesn’t mean you’re in the present.”

I do find perceptiveness from teenagers’ observations. Parents and teachers of teenagers should listen to them more often than they do. Perhaps these blossoming adults transitioning from puberty to maturity are the experts, they are much less jaded from unpleasant experience and unfulfilled dreams. Teenagers are simply trying to figure it all out; and in the end, don’t we all teeter between a state of self-doubt and self-bravado, and self-assurance and self-consciousness.


Feature Image is from Monday, 2017 an art installation with video projections, school desks and a one day performance at Documenta 14 created by the South African, female art collaborative IQhiya.

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