What’s the happiest time in people’s lives: youth or old age; school, career or retirement? All of these have been suggested, but teenage years and adulthood both have many supporters.
Those who believe teenager are the happiest people cite their lack of responsibilities as a significant factor. They are supported financially and emotionally by their parents, and although they may be included in family decision, they’re not ultimately responsible. However, adolescents are on the threshold of adult life: they’re old enough to get a part-time job, so they can enjoy their first taste of financial independence, and their future study and career lie ahead.
Away from these serious concerns, young people have an active social life with their friends, often simply by hanging out with them. And of course, there’s the excitement of first love and first heartbreak. With all this to experience, teenagers see their parents’ lives as boring and stressful.
However, the reverse is also true. Adults see anxious, self-dramatising adolescents, and appreciate the joys of maturity. These may include a contented family life, long-lasting friendships and a career. Long-term relationships may not have the fireworks of adolescence, but are stronger for it, because of the wealth of share experience. At work, many of us are challenged and stimulated by the increasing professional skills we acquire, which ensures that our jobs remain interesting.
The greatest benefit, though, is that maturity gives you greater confidence in your own judgement, in all areas of life. You’re not afraid to express your opinion when others disagree and, unlike a teenager, you know when to let things go.
Both these periods can be happy times, but I look back at my own teenage years with no desire to go back. Adult life may be less dramatic, but fireworks don’t keep you warm.