The teenage years are notoriously difficult to navigate. Often, music helps us to manage the stress, uncertainty, and excitement of those volatile years, giving us the courage to become who we are as adults. A recently launched digital music archive, “The Adolescentia Project,” shares that collective experience while exploring musical identity, media culture, and nostalgia through stories about the albums that changed our lives when we were 14 years old.
Created by Dr. Carrie Teresa, an associate professor of communication and media studies at Niagara University, and Dr. Mary Beth Ray, an associate professor of communication and media studies at Plymouth State University, “The Adolescentia Project” shares the ways one particular album helped to manage the challenges and triumphs of those formative years: the first heartbreaks, loneliness and isolation, depression and anxiety, grief and loss, and tumultuous home lives, as well as validation, acceptance, comfort, affirmation, and strength.
Teresa and Ray met as graduate students at Temple University and bonded over their shared love of music, media, and the city of Philadelphia. They launched the online project, which invites other music fans to reflect on their pivotal albums, in November 2020 as “a love letter to (their) 14-year-old selves and the albums that (they) loved during that time.” They note that, rather than a list of the popular albums of the day, the archive is a celebration of those that were the most significant to us at the time.
More than 100 individuals have submitted their stories to the living archive so far, offering a glimpse of the impact music has had on them through their answers to questions including “What did your 14-year-old self love about this album?” “How did this album impact your sense of self?” and “How is this album’s impact still with you today?” To add your story to the collection, visit @adolescentia_ Instagram bio or www.adolescentiaproject.com.