Some people hear “rebellious” and think “bad” or “naughty”. But often, a rebellious youth simply doesn’t want to conform to all of society’s expectations and norms.
They carve their own path in life.
And whether that’s “bad” or not, depends on the situation and from which angle you’re looking at it.
What’s even more interesting, is that these rebellious youth tend to have certain traits that make them free-thinking, resilient adults.
That’s what we’ll be exploring today. You might relate to these traits yourself or better understand someone in your circle, so let’s dive in:
Independence is probably one of the most obvious traits of people who had a rebellious youth.
For one, they weren’t the type to follow the crowd. From a young age, people like this rejected conformity, while the rest of their friends or classmates happily followed the lead of teachers or parents.
And let’s be honest, when you reject authority, you’re on your own!
You’ve got to be self-reliant.
I remember a kid in my school who’d sell everything from chocolate to deodorant in the playground. He was constantly in trouble, but while the rest of us went off to college, he started his own business.
I’ve heard he did well for himself, and looking back, it was a good thing he didn’t let the teachers stamp out his drive for entrepreneurship.
Rebellious youth don’t get away with their actions scot-free. I can say I was on the light end of rebellion growing up, and I certainly faced repercussions for the things I did.
But in a way, each time I was told off or grounded, it made me more resilient.
When someone says to me now, as an adult, “You can’t do this,” my first thought is, “Well, watch me try.”
Not to mention, when you’re criticized as a child or often labeled as “naughty” or “mischievous”, you develop a thick skin.
So people who were rebellious in their youth often do well as adults in the workplace – they bounce back from setbacks and don’t let criticism stop them from achieving their goals.
Ah, thinking outside the box and crafting plans to get away with rebellion of any sort requires creativity.
I remember wanting to go and buy sweets from the corner shop when I was a child. With the front door being locked, my little brother said it wasn’t worth trying.
So I gathered some boxes, climbed my way out of the top window in the living room, and made it halfway down the street before my mom noticed and came running after me.
The fact I’d forgotten my pocket money made my mission redundant anyway, but my parents couldn’t help but laugh at my creativity to get out of the house (after I received a firm telling-off and loss of TV rights for a week).
And this creative streak is pretty common in people who were rebellious in their younger years – they’re used to thinking up innovative ideas to get what they want.
4) Empathy for outsiders
If you were rebellious back in the day, you’ll know that you’re often watching from the outside in.
Not everyone would have agreed with your methods or ways of doing things.
Your classmates probably saw you as different, and you were probably treated as such by the adults around you.
So as adults, people like this tend to have more empathy for outsiders.
They may go on to become social workers helping disadvantaged youth, or campaigners for those who are marginalized in society.
Ultimately, they understand that just because someone is rebellious, or different, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person.
They also deserve to feel welcomed and have a community around them just as much as anyone else.
5) Skepticism of authority
During Covid, it became more evident who was skeptical about following the government rules and who wasn’t.
As someone who never trusted authority growing up, I’ll admit, I was hesitant to get the vaccines. I did so only because I needed to travel, but I know many who outright refused.
And this wasn’t because they didn’t care about the rest of the population, but because they simply didn’t blindly believe everything the government said.
Now think of an investigative journalist – someone who asks questions, and doesn’t believe everything they’re fed by the powers that be…there’s a good chance they also experienced a rebellious streak growing up.
The truth is, we need people like that.
People who push back and ask the questions many others are uncomfortable with.
After all, these are the people who don’t shy away from holding others (ahem, politicians and institutions) accountable for their actions.
When it comes to being adventurous, you need to take risks and be up for spontaneity.
And people who experienced rebellious childhoods can relate to this – every lesson skipped, and every mischievous plan hatched required taking risks and being brave.
It also included a lot of exploring of new territories.
I remember the first time I skipped school, I ended up in a part of town I’d never been to before because I didn’t want to bump into any of my neighbors.
It was a little daunting back then (especially without Google Maps to guide me back) but I also remember how thrilling it was.
Now, as an adult, when I travel I absolutely love getting lost on purpose in new cities. I know a few friends who can think of nothing worse than that, but for me, it’s a sense of adventure.
I also remember capturing my favorite photo on the famous Charles Bridge in Prague – I only managed to get it because I sneakily stayed in the tower for as long as possible after everyone else left when it hit closing time.
Luckily, the guard wasn’t too peeved off!
7) Flexibility in thinking
We’ve already mentioned that people with rebellious childhoods tend to think outside of the box and are fairly creative.
And the same goes for their mindset. They tend to be more open-minded and flexible when it comes to new ideas and opinions.
They’ve navigated unconventional paths in the past, so the thought of doing something new or different doesn’t scare them.
If, as a kid, you’re open to going against the grain, it makes sense that as an adult, you’d be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone and take an interest in things that aren’t necessarily “normal” or accepted by general society.
8) Strong convictions
And finally, rebellious youngsters don’t have a problem standing up for what they believe in, and that creates adults with strong convictions.
For example, if someone used to rebel against their parents over something they fundamentally disagreed with, as an adult, they may also campaign against the government, or their workplace if they feel their rights are being violated.
In other words, they have strong beliefs that they aren’t afraid to fight for.
And since authority figures don’t scare them, they’re more likely to push back and make change happen.
My husband comes to mind for this example.
He, from the age of 8, rejected his dad who, to put it lightly, wasn’t a good influence in the house. But as a little boy, he stood up to him, even when others labeled him as disobedient.
Last year, when the CEO of a startup he was working for started doing some shady behind-the-scenes deals, my husband was the only one to speak up and expose him.
He lost his job, obviously, but it didn’t stop him from standing by his convictions and doing the right thing.
So, as we come to the end of the article, I hope reading the points above has opened your eyes and mind to how being a rebel as a child can translate into being a pretty awesome adult, one who thinks for themselves, pushes the limits and creates their own path in life.
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