Stability of self-esteem is the hallmark of the closure of adolescence. As self-esteem improves, compromise is possible. The adolescent can compromise on their ideals and begin to see all humans as flawed beings who are trying their best to succeed. The arrogance often recedes such that the emerging adult develops a more sanguine approach to the compromises demanded by life’s circumstances.
Zara, twenty-four, exemplifies this transition period from late adolescence to young adult. Whereas in the past, all the adults in her life had “sold out” to corporate interests, now she sees the value of a steady paycheck and the compromises inherent in starting a family. Her stormy period of self-harm, substance abuse, school refusal and school failure are behind her. Now, she is a reliable and responsible person, anxious to become more financially and emotionally independent from her parents. Although she still has issues with how her parents’ conduct their lives, she also sees that choices in life can be agonizing, and so there needs to be some forgiveness for compromising one’s value system. Her judgmental attitude has diminished considerably.
It would be easy for me to take credit for Zara’s emotional growth, and although I do think I should take some, it is also true that the pressure of development, the neurologically pre-programmed wiring to become independent beings, is also at play. As Zara’s brain matures, she feels more of a need to start her own life, and hence be less focused on the flaws of her parental figures. Psychotherapy and development work together to shape Zara’s emerging self. This is a common theme in my blog. Forgive the repetition, but my amazement about the power of development never ceases.