As a 20 year old, when I look back at my teens I couldn’t be more grateful to my parents for providing me with an open environment to explore and try on different identities. Erikson felt that peers and authority figures have a strong impact on the development of one’s identity during adolescence.
Identity exploration becomes a lot easier, when the people we trust support us on our journey of discovery and exploration in order to see what fits and resonates with the true ‘self’.
The key to resolving identity vs role confusion, Erikson argued, lies in the adolescent’s interactions with others. Through responding to the reactions of people who matter, the adolescent selects and chooses from among the many elements that could conceivably become a part of his/her adult identity.
When adolescents are indifferent, do not make a conscious search for identity, or are pressured to conform to their parents’ ideas for the future, they may develop a weak sense of self and experience role confusion. They will be unsure of their identity and confused about the future. Teenagers who struggle to adopt a positive role will likely struggle to “find” themselves as adults.
On the other hand those who receive proper encouragement and reinforcement through personal exploration will emerge from this stage with a strong sense of self and a feeling of independence and control.
There are certain cultures that deeply encourage and facilitate an identity crisis. In Amish cultures, some communities encourage older teens to live in the outside world before determining whether they will remain a permanent part of the Amish community and be baptized. Similarly, some Roman Catholic communities now have changed confirmation to a later time, and encourage people to take time to consider whether they truly wish to be confirmed in the Church. Allowing an identity to emerge before making such important decisions seems psychologically sound.
Have you surrounded yourself with the right people?
To know more about the 5th stage of psychosocial development- Identity vs Role confusion watch this