Live on the Edge

I’ve thought about dyeing my hair blue twice today. The first time, a girl in my drawing class was sporting the shade, but then I opted out and decided it looks good only on a select group, which I sadly wasn’t a part of. A few hours later, I was watching “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” It just so happens the female lead has blue hair the first time she’s on screen. Immediately I admired the sheer boldness and contemporariness of that vivid turquoise shade. It was a look that for some reason became unbelievably appealing to me.

Now, I happen to have one of those mothers who would literally have a heart attack if I dyed my hair, let alone dyed it the color blue. Yet for some reason, ticking her off added to the allure of the drastic hairdo.

This got me to thinking, why are teenagers so prone to rebel? Why do we get a rush or take joy in going against our parents or “the establishment?” Why do we feel a thrill in dangerous situations rather than sheer fear? What’s the allure of drugs and alcohol?

Scientists have proven that there is an underlying hormone in teens that drives them to push the envelope. Studies have also shown that the brain’s frontal lobe, which controls decision making, does not develop completely until the very end of adolescence. The brain was thought to complete growing at age ten, yet studies in past years have shown it is actually not fully matured until the mid-20s. Teenagers are genetically prone to have wild ambitions and go against the grain.

The Society of Neuroscience published a study, “The Adolescent Brain,” which specifically states, “Areas involved in planning and decision-making, including the prefrontal cortex — the cognitive or reasoning area of the brain important for controlling impulses and emotions — appear not to have yet reached adult dimension during the early 20s. The adolescent brain is still strengthening connections between its reasoning- and emotion-related regions. Scientists believe these collective findings may indicate that cognitive control over high-risk behaviors is still maturing during adolescence, making teens more apt to engage in risky behaviors.”

My friend, an avid snowboarder, exemplifies this well. He purposely goes on runs that are way past his ability just to feel the adrenaline rush, that thrill of danger and, in some cases, the thrill of a near death experience. People seem to thrive on that feeling, getting kicks by doing irrational, ill-thought-out things.

Most adults will tell you the days of messing around and being thoughtless will come back to haunt you. Some look back on their teenage years, pining over how fit, relaxed and most importantly carefree they were. With age comes experience, and it seems with experience comes reserve. Is that necessarily a good thing? Do people become so cautious that they convince themselves out of their youth memories? These experiences push emotional and physical limits and should be cherished for a lifetime. They provide eternally fulfilling sensations and stories to share for years to come. I think a favorite saying of mine puts it best: “If you don’t live on the edge, you can’t see the view.”

Veronica Harrington is a new Lower from Los Angeles, CA.