The first chapter establishes that adolescents wonder why they exist as individuals, and why and how it is that they come to be just as they are, both physically and mentally. They wonder why they are members of their individual families, as well as of their larger extended families. The opening chapter explores these frequently asked questions. It reports the results of face-to-face interviews with dance students from a vocation secondary school in Rotterdam (Mavo voor de Dans te Rotterdam) and presents a revised analysis of protocols from a doctoral study in developmental psychology from the University in Groningen. One of the most revealing comments from the interviews was from a 15-year-old girl:
“I think it weird that I exist, that I walk around, that other people have the same kinds of feelings. It’s just strange, and thinking about it makes it more complicated and even stranger. It is just so weird that I exist.”
The adolescent question has its roots in physiology and in the developing body. Teenagers are, in generally, extremely preoccupied with their bodies and external appearance. They become concerned with how their peers judge them. It is a period when young people begin to think about the choice of a partner. It is also a period of increasingly explicit self-contemplation.