In psychology and sociology classes we seem to talk a lot about development. It certainly seems to be all fine and good to discuss such matters when we are doing so from the perspective of somebody in the formal operational stage, but what about five years ago? Today I realized that only five years ago many of the things that I am now considered to be “capable” of were supposed to be impossible. I did, and still do, believe myself to have been a brighter, more mature adolescent than most but was I honestly incapable of objectively understanding my own innate cultural and contextual subjectivity? I’m pretty sure that as a freshman in high school I was capable, if not always active, in metacognition.
This is not to say that I have not “developed” as I have most certainly changed in leaps and pogo-stick-bounds even since being a freshman in college. Even since last semester I have learned so much. Talking about being “more developed” now makes it seem like I was some sort of caveman incapable of any important life functions and I’m really not so sure that was the case. I am now more experienced and comfortable talking about important issues now then I was several years ago but was I developmentally incapable of empathy ten years ago? Have I honestly only spent half my life being able to think beyond what my senses alert me to?
Then there’s the issue of identity which I’ve been thinking much about recently. Externally, I suppose people would put me in the box of having identity achieved or a few years ago I may even have been put in identity foreclosure but I still feel like I’m searching myself and the world which apparently puts me in identity moratorium. Even if you take the approach of saying that development is just a good, natural process it still feels very alienating to suppose that I need to change or that little-Matthew running around building Legos all day was somehow not a full, capable human being.
I now know more about geography, or theology, or economics or sexuality then I did as a fifth grader but since I’ve supposedly become an adult have I suddenly hit a wall? I certainly want to continue growing and learning as a person but I do recognize that it will be increasingly difficult to change myself now then it was a few years ago. This idea of me finally being a developed human being after twenty years of marinading in whatever juices people fed to me seems to coldly deny any genetic uniqueness that I may have been created with as well as the possibility of me having a will and choosing paths possibly based on how I was taught or what opportunities were available or even on whether I thought a unicorn was cooler than a Ford Mustang. To say that I was incapable of certain psychological processes as an adolescent does seem cruel but it does raise the question of asking myself what am I currently incapable of or is it just that I need some practice?
If you dare to read my blog you better not be expecting answers. Only questions and an occasional suggestion.
photo from here