In a recent article by Psychology Today, new research concerning how much we know about ourselves compared to how much our friends know about us was discussed. Social development in adolescence can be tough–particularly for teens with low self esteems or a weak sense of self.
Teens often strive for independence, which usually means hanging out with friends instead of family. The friends a teen picks during social development in adolescence can greatly impact how they continue to move forward and develop. Positive friendships can result in a teen strengthening their sense of self because of the way friends know us compared to how we know ourselves.
A different perspective
Friends have a unique, outside view of us that we never get. They can recognize your tics, patterns, facial expressions, likes, dislikes, and more. Having a positive, supportive friendship to fall back on when times get tough can be extremely beneficial during social development in adolescence. New research suggests friends know us better–or at least differently–than we know ourselves. The reasons given are:
- They know our behavior. If you have a best friend, you’ve probably had a moment where it seemed like they knew exactly what you were thinking. This is because when you spend a large amount of time around someone–especially someone you care about–you start to see and predict their actions and behaviors. For example, your friend may know that you start to play with your hair when you get really nervous. Knowing this can help them help you avoid situations that make you uncomfortable.
- The can break through the self-image barrier. We all put up a protective barrier of who we are and how we present ourselves. The great thing about a positive, supportive friend is that you can rely on them to not care nearly as much about how we present ourselves and love you for who you are. Especially during social development in adolescence, teens often put up fronts or follow trends because they’re deemed “cool,” but a friend can help strengthen the real parts of you that you should care about.
- They help us stay accountable. When something goes wrong, it’s easy to blame the situation or look for someone else to blame. Friends, as outside observers, can often see how we messed up and help us understand how we did and how we can avoid it in the future.
Being more aware during social development in adolescence
Social development in adolescence is about understanding responsibility and shaping ourselves. Friends help us see when a sticky situation is of our own doing and they also act as a support system in those hard times. They encourage us to be honest with ourselves, which increases our chances of success in the future.