Late adolescence is an especially challenging transitional time when the roles of adulthood must begin to be addressed in almost every aspect of life. “Adolescents have to manage major biological, educational, and social role transitions concurrently and cope with the growing strains of independence” (Caprara et al, 2010, p. 34). Newman and Newman (2006) describe late adolescence as a period of significant cognitive and emotional maturation, sexual awakening, heightened sensitivity to peer relations and continuing differentiation.
According to Erikson (1968) identity development is one of the major psychosocial tasks of late adolescence and has important effects for healthy psychological development throughout the life course. “Adolescence is the time to sharpen the boundaries between self and nonself, to become a distinct, autonomous individual. Such autonomy allows the youth to function as a separate person, to make decisions, to act without direct guidance and to display a sense of self-determination” (Garbarino, 1992, p. 186).
Mark is a 23 year old grown man who lives with his only mother in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up Mark did not see much of his father because his mother did not want his father a part of hers son’s life after their divorce. Being an only child, Mark, required a lot of attention and in many ways grew up being a selfish boy. His mother, Laura, did absolutely everything for her son. From buying all the toys and video games he wanted to putting him into the best school, all of which he was not thankful for. Mark was a troubled young boy and had always gotten into trouble in school. Laura was very worried for him, but thought he would grow out of that age. At 18, Mark, barely graduated high school – it was the help of Laura’s family and constant “therapy” sessions that Mark managed to graduate – with a C average. He eventually was enrolled into a CUNY four year college. I think that Laura’s family had a lot of influence on Mark’s identity formation. Even though they all wanted him to become a doctor Mark still wasn’t sure who he was and what he wanted to do. All he knew was that he wanted to explore it all. Mark and Laura did not have a great relationship – she wanted him to study and do well in school, but he did not want to do that. In college, Mark became friends with a lot of individuals. That is one positive quality he owned – he was very generous and social. Because of that many of his friends used him for that. Mark was unable to ever say the word “No” to his friends. Whether he had exams the following day it didn’t matter to him. This is because he did not want his friends to think “less” of him or not like him. He and would fail all his courses and would have to repeat them over – throwing all his college tuition down the drain. Mark was going through many different stages during his late adolescence. He used his college years to become more independent from his mother. He would try to find jobs to make money because he could not imagine himself asking his mother for money, thus, work became more of a priority to him than going to classes. He did not stay at his job longer than 2 months. He would jump around from working in a bank as a teller to working at the diamond district. He was getting “bored” as Mark would say it. In the beginning he was excited and then the flame went out. Finding a part-time job or even full-time job was quite easy for him – that was because of his gender. I sensed that as much as he was trying to be rebellious the idea of him becoming a doctor sat deep down inside him. He cared about what people thought about him, that is why he wanted to succeed, but didn’t know how to. “The judgments individuals make about themselves are based on what they believe others think, as well as their own comparison of themselves with others”