Megan: A Profile Of A Post-Modern Youth
Written by Glen Dawursk, Jr.
Megan is a 15-year-old Caucasian girl from a Midwestern middle class family. Her father and mother both have college degrees and would be classified as “workaholics.” Their goal is to retire early and reap the benefits of their success. They are so involved with themselves that they fail to really see who Megan is. They think they are great parents because they desire to be “friends” with Megan and her 12-year-old brother Matthew. They are permissive and have in their own words, “given their children room to grow and explore life.” Megan and her brother would be classified as “latchkey children” and often times she is responsible for preparing dinner for her and her brother. She has little intimacy with her parents and she is starved for closeness. Recently, after years of marital strife, Megan’s parents started throwing out the “D-word” in front of her and her brother. Her father has even stayed away several nights from home, a sort of self-imposed separation, and her mother’s friends have encouraged her to seriously consider contacting a lawyer to make the separation permanent. However, divorce is not uncommon to Megan, many of her friends come from single parent or remarried families. Yet, Megan feels this desire to please them, especially her father, as she seeks his approval and love.
Megan desires to have closeness with her peers, but she lacks the skills and discernment necessary to create a meaningful relationship. Her parents have not modeled this to her and her brother, so she has turned to the media for parenting. The media has taught her images of closeness based upon selfish interests and the desire to always “get something” out of a relationship. She prefers small groups of friends rather than large groups and seeks to please them in order to “fit in.” While she values friendships and relationships the most, she avoids sharing too much of her real self with anyone. She hides behind a facade of compliance, when in reality she is crying to be loved, validated for who she is, and she craves for any attention. While leery about revealing her true self in a relationship, she seeks them, as they are the only true “family” to her. For this reason, Megan has a history of promiscuity. Her friends encourage and challenge her to pursue sexual gratification. Her friends echo the media message that sex is inevitable and expected – and it is safe. Combined with her need for intimacy, her peer pressures and the media’s message, she condones the idea that it is acceptable to do anything to feel loved and she has willingly equated sexual gratification as the sign of being truly loved by someone. She does not evaluate her decisions on the basis of what is right and what is wrong, but rather on “How will this make me feel for the moment?” She does not consider marriage as a pre-requisite for intercourse – in fact, she expects to “live with a guy” before ever deciding on marriage. The scary part is Megan currently practices “unprotected sex” with multiple partners and so do her friends.
Megan often lives vicariously through other people’s lives. She always talks about a movie romance or the perfect friendship in a novel she has read. She seeks “slices of life” to fill the emptiness in hers. She says these “fantasies” help her struggle with her reality.
Commitment of any kind is an issue with Megan. She prefers short projects with a foreseeable outcome to long-term projects with seemingly unattainable expectations. She contemplates over joining anything and despises being forced into obligations without her approval. Megan would rather hangout with her small group of friends and watch TV or chat on the internet than participate in a food pantry rally, homecoming parade, or other “causes”. Yet, despite her desire to work in “small groups,” Megan actually yearns to be independent – not from people, but from conformity. She wants to be an individual, but often times is forced to compromise her feelings, opinions and values in order to be accepted by her teachers, family, and peers. She has distinct ideas but often fails to share them. This does not mean Megan is a “basket case” or a time bomb ready to go off; rather the opposite. Megan is self-confident and seems self-sufficient, as she has learned to take care of herself at home. However, her confidence is easily shaken when she is not offered opportunities for personal responsibility, a “cause”, or a purpose. The problem is that Megan’s cause or purpose is based upon the desire for material processions, not on “saving the rain forest.” She is driven to succeed in order to buy herself happiness. In the movie “Wall Street”, the main character states “Greed is Good.” This has become a subconscious virtue in Megan’s mind and her generation supports this viewpoint. The media and her circle of friends has taught her that no government, no president, no TV-evangelist, no church, no teacher, no parent, no one can be truly trusted. Megan has taken on the Nike attitude of life. She has chosen to “Just Do It” herself – as no one really cares about her well-being or happiness. Ironically, she expects her apathy to be her destiny as she is very negative and pessimistic about her future. So, Megan lives for the moment.
Megan is open to change, expects it, and even looks for ways to encourage it. She loves media, music and movies and looks for the “surround experience” in everything she does. Especially music. Megan goes to every concert that comes to town. She has CD’s and DVD’s of the latest artists and has played them so often that she can resite word for word the lyrics of the songs. To her, the artists represent the perfect lifestyle because they are risk takers. Megan desires to be a risk taker, too. Through her dress and lifestyle, Megan seeks to show her individuality while still maintaining a sense of “fad-tion” with her peers. Brand names are important for the moment, but they easily lose their flavor as a new one enters the scene. Megan seeks the scene and desires to command it as it brings her attention and acceptance. As a “net- kid”, Megan knows what is new and innovative before it ever hits the streets or the malls of her town. She anticipates and “lives for” the thrill of change and passionately seeks the “risk.” The “cool” thing to her usually is fast, furious, seemingly uncomplicated, always high energy, and usually involves a bit of risk. Megan paid extra to do the “bungee jump” ride with her friends last summer at an amusement park.
While a risk seeker, Megan is very organized. She plans things out and even carries a Palm for her “lists of things to do.” She is able to multi-task and seems to accomplish most of what she sets out to do. She seems ambitious and exerts a sincere desire to succeed. However, the stress and pressure she feels causes her to have frequent mood swings and miniature emotional breakdowns. While just 15 years old, she thinks she has to be an adult and society burdens her with this view.
Amazingly, Megan has issues with truth while still seeking some sort of “spiritual experience.” She questions the irrationality of truth (especially religious truth) verses real life and seeks to disguises her anguish and confusion with temporary spiritual experiences. She is not a “church goer” and does not want to become a “member” anywhere. Instead, she seeks to find herself through the ideas of New Age thinking, Miss Cleo, and the occult. She rejects the church beliefs of her grandparents because they do not “relate” to her life and she sees how her parents rejected them as well. In her search for a sense of “community” and belonging, Megan has become entranced by Scientology. She sees herself as being the only one who cares about her and seeks to gain self-actualization to make herself feel right with her surroundings. Her spiritual quest briefly led her to extreme dieting and purging as a way of making herself feel “right.” She does not simply want the facts about a God, but rather Megan expresses a desire to no what it all means. Why me? Why now? Why? In her search, she lives outside of the conventional box. To Megan, there are no boundaries -- no sense of right or wrong. Relavitism is a way of life; if it seems to have meaning or feeling to Megan, then it must be ok. If not, then it must be wrong, and her style of learning reflects this belief. She will seemingly question authorities answers, when in fact she is simply testing her lack of boundaries. She demands information and will pursue it to find her personal enlightenment in the hopes that it will empower her toward some greater revelation and meaning. Ironically, this concept may seem similar to the spiritual awakenings of the 1960’s Jesus movement, but the difference is that Megan is seeking a more worldly and internalized answer and has chosen to by-pass Christianity in the process.