ALL MANNER OF THINGS: conversations with young people about Sex, Identity, Relationship, & Life is comprised of six phases.
• Phase One, The Basics, discusses the biology of puberty and reproductive sex. We note that, most of the time, we’re not being sexual because we want to have a baby, so why are we?
After exploring a number of reasons, we come to the awareness that the majority of our sexual interactions happen because we’re insecure.
With this in mind, we determine it’s a good idea to get to know ourselves before getting to know and being sexual with someone else.
• Phase Two, Getting To Know Us, establishes that, while insecurity is something that most of us contend with for most of our lives, it’s leading up to and during puberty that it relentlessly kicks in.
This is also when we’re becoming more aware of a narrative that informs our sense of worth. What we have and what we look like start to determine our value, and how we should think and behave.
The question then is whether our burgeoning insecurity and this narrative and its ideas are related.
To address this, we first determine some of the main changes that occur during adolescence:
ideas about who we should be depending on whether we’re born a boy or a girl get much stronger
ideas based on what we have, wear, look like, and where we come from get stronger
Social Media and the Internet become a big part of our lives
our experience of our changing bodies, sexual energy, and sex becomes relevant
Breaking each aspect down, we examine the narrative’s impact. For instance, if we’re born with a male body, often there’s the idea that we have to subdue our emotions, which can lead to feelings of isolation, or conflict.
By the end of Phase Two, it’s apparent that how we respond to the narrative’s ideas isn’t always generative, and often has a detrimental effect.
Answering the question, are our insecurity and the narrative related? We can confidently say, yes.
• Phase Three, Narratives, examines the ways in which we allow the narrative’s ideas of worth to shape us.
Why are external factors such as material wealth, gender, or race held as the gate keepers for how we relate, and certain categories deemed the ones we should value most? For instance,
. why is a person’s skin color the determining factor of how we think about them, or whether we like them or not?
. why does someone’s perceived or real privilege determine how we interact? Why is it enough for us to vilify them?
. why is the number of likes or friends on our social media a reflection of our worth?
Examining the various external distinctions at play, we discover they don’t support the defining roles we’ve attributed them. Who we are as individuals cannot be determined by who we seem, or are expected to be.
We notice when we’re not focused on the definitions, our experience changes. There is more room for us to be ourselves, and we’re more likely to be connected to a sense of self that feels easeful and authentic. We discuss how, in moments such as these, we don’t feel like something is missing, or that we have to be a certain way in order to belong. Instead of looking for our sense of worth externally, we’re connected to an internal aspect of ourselves that is more powerful than anything else.
Though we all have access to this Authentic Self that feels present and grounded, we rarely connect. So what gets in our way?
The ensuing exploration discusses how our response to the narrative and the way it shapes identities—painting them as threatening, or better, or worse—means the same dynamics play out over and over again. Our scripts may be slightly different, the locations here or there, yet the scenarios we engage in are the same. Suffering, conflict, and victimization perpetuate.
• Phase Four, What We Can Do, introduces critical conversations about aspects of ourselves and others that we generally don’t pay much attention to.
becoming aware of the behavior, or the ‘roles’ we play that we don’t give much thought to
noticing our thoughts and feelings and how they affect us
tracking the importance of liking ourselves, and knowing and liking our own bodies as well
understanding sexual energy, able to know
. when it’s our own or someone else’s
. what kind of sexual energy it is—objectified, or connected to the heart
. how the energy affects us so that we’re more equipped to make choices that are clear and feel right
Engaging with new perspectives and practical tools, we’re able to evaluate and, if desired, change our experience.
• Phase Five, Getting To Know Someone Else, recognizes that, even though we may be getting to know ourselves really well, when it comes to getting to know someone else it’s easy to get derailed.
The conversation includes:
the nuances and dynamics of relationship: expectations, boundaries, communication, habits of behavior, jealousy, commitment, chasing drama, manipulation, responsibility, co-dependency, filters, forgiveness, and trust
knowing our reasons for being sexual; what kind of a person we’d want to be sexual with; and in what kind of circumstances
communication—before, during, and after being sexual—and ways in which to do that
explanations of sexual options
ways of being sexual that are conscious and present
Phase Five concludes with a discussion about sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, contraception, and safety.
Introducing critical conversations, ALL MANNER OF THINGS helps
empower young people to be their own, fully tuned in advocates, knowing who they are, and making conscious choices about how they show up