Dirty dishes are stacked up in the room, the clothes and towels lying all over the floor form piles of various sizes garnished with powerfully scented skin and hair care products, CDs and a hairdryer fill the gaps, a laptop and mobile phone are permanently online on the rumpled bed. Anyone who ventures into the room, perhaps to open a window, has to wade through it all or alternatively skip from one island to the next. The person who emerges from the room, however, is a picture of (near) perfection in a range of styles. Everything is precisely in place down to the last strand of hair ... Ready to go! The door bangs as if the idea of a door handle were an unknown concept.
The occasional friendly suggestion that a spring clean might not come amiss dissipates into nothingness. The slightly more annoyed question as to how anyone can feel comfortable in such a pigsty gets the response: “Because!” If, nevertheless, we do not let ourselves be discouraged by such a communicative statement and – seeking insight – ask for some sort of explanation, the second most common answer is: “No idea.” If our willingness to engage in dialogue is still unbroken, seeking a “reasonable” discussion among equals, then the third most common response is: “You wouldn’t understand.”
Adults should abandon their desperate hope of understanding adolescents with their adult logic. That would not be in accord with the ambivalent emotional situation of this wonderful species, in which contradictions take on a logic of their own. Even the attempt to understand adolescents is inappropriate when we look at the “object of observation”. They do not want to be understood, they do not want to build bridges, they want to demarcate themselves from the “oldies”, to be indisputably something else. Every understanding do-gooder is a torment for them and kindles their zeal to provoke all the more.
Adolescents test the adulthood of adults, sound out the latter’s reliability as human beings beyond any social convention, and trust that however wildly they may behave, we will not turn away from them.
They might well say: “I hate you!”. They might well feel: “Don’t abandon me!”
In this light the behaviour of adolescents makes sense and is really quite reasonable. Because the path to becoming an individual is unique and does not follow any explanatory models. We should not have to understand them, simply love them.