You don’t understand me.

Leave me alone.

It’s not my fault.

That’s not fair.

I need money.

If you’ve parented a teenager – or if you’re honest about having been one yourself – you recognize these refrains. Having spent many years teaching as well as reading and writing about them, I must say there’s nothing quite as exhilarating – or exasperating – as the quirky adolescent mentality.

Alaska is a young state, still thrashing around in the throes of adolescence as we struggle to find our way in the world. With a balance of red and blue representation at the state level, we demonstrate a healthy mix of viewpoints and attitudes. But in sending the Old Guard back to Washington, we’re wallowing in our adolescent ways, flaunting the belligerence of our convicted Senator and arrogant Congressman.

In literature, adolescents confront fundamental questions about who they are and progress toward healthy, responsible adulthood. The journey isn’t easy or pleasant, but there’s satisfaction in growing into a sense of oneself. Some, however, get stuck in adolescence. They spend their lives shirking responsibility, whining about being misunderstood, and blaming everyone but themselves.

Alaskans are better than that. We will one day let go of our childish ways, foregoing our sense of entitlement, replacing rebellion with healthy skepticism, and coming into a fuller understanding of who we are.

At least that’s how it ends in all the good books.

2 thoughts on “WHO ARE WE?”

  1. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    A great and quietly humorous way to look at it — thanks.

    I got so tired of hearing “this is a sad day for Alaska” in recent weeks/months. No, the sad day for Alaska would be the day we attempt to send a felon back to Washington. I think Palin’s run (not that I supported it) and Stevens conviction (which I do support) were both good things and bizarrely fitting for our 50th statehood anniversary.

    We are growing up as a state; we are maturing and leaving colonialism behind. It may be a little painful. We have a large and capable and diverse enough population now to spawn all kinds of personalities, from a national-caliber celebrity-VP (for better or worse) to an old senator who needs to face the consequences of his actions. The world is watching, because we are not just a backwater anymore — isn’t that what pro-development Alaskans always wanted?

    You said it better, Deb, but I just had to rant one more time. Now: time to be happy about the national news.

  2. And to be fair, we are in fact a young state. I like to think our literature is coming of age ahead of our politics and will help us through the transition.

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