THE BECOMING CHILD
“These initiations into the mysteries began in him an unexpected transformation. He became more silent and yet more open. His utterances, though perfectly clear, were completely opaque. His voice changed and took on tones that were at once deep, surprising and gentle. Sometimes he seemed hard, cold, remote; and at other times joyful, rich with love, basking in wonderment. He became an enigma to the village, but was a bigger enigma to himself. He didn’t know who he was anymore.”
“She was not, at first, beautiful. She became very beautiful later on. She was, at that time, quite plain, quite odd in the face, like a work of art in formation…. but rich with the potential of many different kinds of harmonies emerging from the early stages of the manifestation of a personality. There was something about her that was rare, special, hidden, waiting. Something fine, clear, like a cloudy uncertain dawn…”
(Ben Okri: Starbook, 2007)
We are all, always, in a process of transformation, of becoming; but possibly never more so than in our pre-teen and early teenage years. This is a time where our latency gives way to nascence. The burgeoning intellect starts to understand the world around us in a way that positions us in this world with a growing sense of perspective. Creativity at this time is uncertain. The need to express our thought processes and our deepening emotions falters through its own awareness.
Our parents’ hands, which shaped us through early years are now seen to shape us and we wonder, in turn, what it is that we can shape. We start to understand that we can potentially shape the world around us, but also see that our agency is limited. Cognitive psychologists tell us that this is a time of The Imaginary Audience, where we are at our most self-conscious, and of The Personal Fable, where we are firmly the hero in our own story. But it is also a time of shift and risk-taking, rebellion and confusion in which the ground is laid for the formation of our adult selves: a time of becoming.