This post is written by Honey Good Guest Contributor, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein. She speaks to how our coming of age stories can shape our lives and the importance of sharing memories. Enjoy, Darlings!
Coming of Age Journeys
We all have to go through the social and psychological steps of coming of age as we move from childhood to adulthood.
Some moments are fun, other moments are so distressing we want to forget them as soon as they happen. If we are lucky we are suddenly twenty-one and not too damaged, ready to leap further into aspects of life that are part of finally being an adult.
Now the pressures are on to finish any schooling that may seem necessary to pursue a specific career, and of course, many other decisions and pressures that go with choices we make as adults such as:
Whether to marry, to have children, to move to a new area, to make new friends, etc…
An Important Stage of Life
The list is endless. But as I said, first we must get through coming of age. That stage of life has been extremely important to me as a psychologist, an author, a playwright and now a filmmaker. What fascinates me so much about this stage between about 10 or 11 and early twenties is the amazing changes we have to go through and survive at the same time.
One day we are kids playing jump rope or with dolls and the next day, we have to deal with getting our period and hormonal feelings that suddenly become part of our dispositions. It is amazing any of us make it through those years. And our poor parents usually almost collapse from the complicated, moody people we become. Ah, those lovely sweet days of coloring books and catching fireflies on the lawn are a distant past.
But before I sound too discouraging I want to assure all of us that the coming of age years are miraculous and fun and amazing also. Best friends, first crushes, time away from home at camp or grandma’s, first jobs, make-up, clubs, etc.
A Story About Dating
Let’s have some fun. I want to share a story that my mom wrote about dating, which is from her generation. A Dark and Stormy Night that probably happened around 1937. What a different world and yet so much is the same. She had a best friend, they had dates, a conflict arose, they were scared and all worked out.
I’ll be back with some other comments after you read her introduction and then the story. Here goes nothing!
I thought you might enjoy a very short story I wrote for my writing class. It has never appeared before in print. It came to my mind recently, as my friend Betty who is mentioned in the story, recently lost her husband of over sixty years. I have been in touch with her and we found ourselves reminiscing. I mentioned to her that I had written a story about our dating days. She was very delighted. I hope that you are too!
A Dark and Stormy Night by Bernice Becker
Betty and I were best friends. We did everything together-even double-dating. Tonight our dates were not only interesting and intelligent but were skilled dancers. Emerson, Betty’s date, was a sophisticated intellectual type. Edward was more down to earth and likable, with a sense of humor… very “my type.”
I slipped on my new dress I purchased for the occasion. It fit well and was lovely. I told myself that it was worth the $7.95 I had spent.
Then I walked to Betty’s house where the fellows would be picking us up. I noticed the blue-black wondrous sky with the pearly white moon and glittering stars that smiled down on me.
Betty and I were in high spirits in anticipation of a romantic evening as we greeted each other with compliments. She ‘loved’ my dress. I ‘loved’ her latest hairdo.
The two fellows arrived. They were stylish and handsome.
My heart quickened a beat as Edward helped me with my coat and as he opened the car door for me to get inside the back.
Betty sat in front with Emerson as it was his car.
We chatted as we moved slowly along Beacon Street. So many cars were on their way to Downtown Boston. I could see beautifully dressed people in other cars, probably also going dancing. The lampposts were glistening. I felt comfortable and happy.
Suddenly I heard angry voices, how could things change that quickly? I also noticed that the sky had become dark and the stars were now hidden by storm clouds.
Betty and her date were fighting. I thought Betty was wrong to let herself get involved on a Saturday night date in a squabble. Worst of all, I didn’t want my night ruined. “Don’t spoil our plans,” I thought to myself.
Suddenly, Emerson stopped the car at a safe spot and said words I hated to hear, “Get out.” Because Betty was my close friend I got out also.
We felt awful walking along the street. No stars either. We were afraid the rain would start and we would be soaked. Other fellows opened their car doors encouraging us to come in from the cold. Of course, we would not dare to get into a car with people we didn’t know.
A Change In the Weather
We were not far from my street and had just reached Betty’s house. We were amazed to see the boys parked in Emerson’s car in front of Betty’s house. Emerson jumped out of the car, saying he was ashamed and realized he had done something very wrong and begged Betty to forgive his behavior.
I would have been furious if she didn’t. Both Edward and I were much relieved.
Emerson happily chose a popular restaurant for dinner and he insisted on paying the bill.
We still had time for some enjoyable dancing and as we drove home we saw the sky had changed. No longer was it a stormy and dark night. It was beautiful again as the sparkling stars smiled down on the four romantic young people.
What Her Story Shows Us
I’m sure you immediately pick up at a different time, perhaps a bit more elegant and at the same time more naive than today’s world. However, the interest in the opposite sex was there as clearly as today and some of the angst and anxiety that go with socializing.
Perhaps in today’s world, the girls would not have agreed to take a chance with the guys again. But then again in today’s world, how often do teens get dressed and coifed and out to elegant dining and then dancing?
Oh, how the world has changed!
Share Your Own Coming Of Age Stories
Yet, people don’t change very much. As I said, let’s have some fun.
What is your funniest or most poignant memory of your years between 10 and early twenties? How did you resolve what happened? Or did you just enjoy it? Are you still upset by it? Or do you get a chuckle now and then? If you are a grandma or auntie or mom, I suggest you sit down with the younger generations and share some of these tales of coming of age. You may be surprised to realize that hearing your foibles and successes really give courage and stamina to those younger than ourselves.
My mom has been gone now for a few years, but I know somewhere she is getting a chuckle and a sense of delight that her story may encourage others to not let their coming of age years just fade. They were funny and sad and sometimes tragic and sometimes glorious. They were the entranceway to the adult you have become. Bring them to the surface once again and let them radiate. By my sharing my mom’s story, “A Dark and Stormy Night” comes alive again.
How will you title one of your memories? Please share. Let’s delight in the fact that we did come of age.
Guest contributor, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein:
Sometimes friends and colleagues call me ‘The Enchanted Self.’ That’s because as a psychologist in private practice for over 35 years, I’ve developed a form of positive psychology called The Enchanted Self. I’m not enchanted, but I do have many ways and ideas to help all of us feel better through all stages of life. These methods help us to recognize our potential, regardless of our age, to grab on to our talents and find again and again the emotional energies needed to be creative, resourceful, resilient and to live joyfully.