Although societies around the world differ in customs, languages and many other aspects, a common theme is found between them: the process of coming of age. Leslie Bell in "Selections from Hard to Get: Twenty-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom" introduces the concept of how women in their early to mid-twenties use sexual discovery to "find themselves." She analyzes the mental processes of these women, focusing on what led them to either create an oversexualized view of themselves or run as far away from intimacy as they could. Author Robert Thurman analyzes the other half of the spectrum. His studies have led him to research Buddhism extensively and his argument for spiritual discovery that leads to the discovery of self is outlined in his essay "Wisdom." He follows the theory of achieving nothingness to find "Nirvana" and inner peace. Bell and Thurman discuss the process of self-exploration and how those efforts contribute to or take away from the overall experience. Bell explains her theory in terms of sexual identity while Thurman leans towards a spiritual approach. Both authors rely on the processes of self discovery to convey their ideas about the fluidity of human nature. In the development of self, fluidity allows for a greater understanding of the extent of one's character.
Society plays a major role in one's perception of self. Bell argues that women in their twenties are the most affected by societal norms causing them to be unsure of what's expected of them. Bell states, "Instead of feeling free, twenty-something women are weighed down by vying cultural notions about the kind of sex and relationships they should be having in their twenties" (26). She goes on to use the example of Claudia, a 28 year old professional woman who feels guilty for having sex. Bell explains how Claudia is influenced by the people around her, causing her to feel shameful about her desires.