The Adolescentia Project

Albums that Meant the World to Our Fourteen-Year-Old Selves

Think back to when you were fourteen years old. Who were you? Who did you hang out with? And, most importantly, what did you listen to? Many scholars have explored the connection between music and self-identity, as well as music and social-identity. They agree that identity and the self are not necessarily fixed entities, but are instead in process and change over time. Musical identities are conceptualized in a parallel fashion. They are in flux and change over time. We hear new music, integrate it, discard it, remember it, hear and rehear it in a dynamic emergent process. 

And yet, nowhere is that tender connection between music and identity felt more so than during adolescence. For many teens, music is a paramount aspect of everyday life. It provides a sense of self with its strong personal connection and a sense of others with its strong connection to collective experience. Indeed, it helps us do myriad things that are particularly salient during adolescence ranging from the personal to the social, to the emotional. Perhaps this is why we see such an intensive musical immersion during this intensive life stage. As such, The Adolescentia Project brings with it the presumption that there is something special about being that age – at the cusp of independence, trying to figure out who we are and what we will become.

But what imprints from that time do we carry with us on our journeys? And, what do they look like decades down the road? The Adolescentia Project is a two-part digital and print project that explores musical identity, culture, and nostalgia by collecting and archiving reflections on albums that meant the world to people when they were fourteen years old. We each have that album who made us who we are today. We carry these albums with us over time – they’ve stayed with us. Our goal is to bring us together to tell our stories about how a certain album gave our fourteen-year-old selves the courage to be who we are today. What’s yours?

You can share your story on the digital archive here, and follow the project at @adolescentia_.

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