But when you watch someone on the big screen go through that rites of passage, you are rooting for them all the way, because you've been there. You've experienced all of those wonderful mixtures of emotions that the characters go through. Coming of age is sad, and funny, and happy, and awkward, and cringe-worthy, and every other type of feeling that runs through your body as your find yourself in that transition of adolescence.
And when the big screen does coming of age really well, you inevitably end up with a cult classic on your hands because unlike other film genres such as horror or action, everyone can watch these films and have a similar story to tell.
So without further ado, here is the countdown to my Top 10 Coming of Age movies of all time!
One of the most interesting things I read about this film was that Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg hated each other prior to starring in this dark tale of heroin drug abuse by a bunch of New York delinquents. Based on the memoir of the same name by writer/artist Jim Carroll, this film sees a young DiCaprio prove what a great actor he was on the way to becoming.
Did you know? River Phoenix said in 1988 that he wanted to play the part of Jim Carroll if the book was ever made into a film.
This is definitely one for the Brits, but the tale of five young friends partying in Cardiff has a worthy place in this list. Director Justin Kerrigan wanted the film to be as realistic as possible and captures the club scene at the end of the 90s perfectly in a wave of "clubs, drugs, pubs and parties". Set over one weekend, a young Danny Dyer and John Simm shine in a fantastic cast.
Did you know? International DJ Carl Cox has a cameo in the film as club owner Pablo Hassan.
Sam Rockwell steals the show in this poignant coming-of-age tale about 14-year-old Duncan who is struggling to find where he fits in. To escape the emotional abuse he is suffering from his mother's new boyfriend Trent whilst on summer holiday, Duncan gets himself a job at the local water park run by Owen (Rockwell) who helps him find his way in life.
Did you know? Steve Carell (who plays Trent) shot his part in 10 days.
Robert De Niro's directorial debut is based on a subject the Oscar winning actor knows a thing or two about, namely the mob! Anyone who has seen this film will remember the classic scene when a bunch of Hell's Angels turn up in a bar run by local gangster Sonny. The film focuses on the life of young Calogero who grows up under the wings of his law-abiding bus driver father and Sonny, the man who runs the tough Bronx neighbourhood.
Did you know? The screenplay was written by Chazz Palminteri who insisted he play Sonny when Robert De Niro bought the film rights.
6. This is England (2006)
Shane Meadows powerful 2006 drama This Is England is about a group of young skinheads growing up in the 80s as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old. Meadows followed up the hugely successful drama with a two TV spin-offs which went on to explain what happened next for the characters. This has got to be one of the best British films ever made and includes a fantastic cast including the brilliant Stephen Graham who portrays the menacing Combo to terrifying perfection.
Did you know? Thomas Turgoose (who plays 12-year-old Shaun) had never acted before appearing in this film.
5. Boyz in the Hood (1991)
Like many spotty-faced white teenagers growing up in the early 90s, I was pretty impressed with the whole Gangsta Rap genre, mainly because it meant I got to swear in song. It also meant I would often refer to a place called Compton which I knew little if nothing about. But that all changed when 23-year-old director John Singleton blew us away with his directorial debut Boyz In The Hood about a group of childhood friends growing up in the LA ghetto.
Did you know? Ice Cube owns the gold Chevrolet Impala that his character drove in the movie.
4. The Breakfast Club (1985)
You can't do a coming of age top 10 without a John Hughes movie being in there! Arguably the king of the genre, Hughes was responsible for other 80s greats Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles. But it has to be The Breakfast Club - a film often touted as the greatest high school movie ever made about a group of teenagers who spend a Saturday afternoon together in detention - which still stands the test of time.
Did you know? Judd Nelson's bizarre terms such as 'Neo-Maxi Zoomdweebie' were all completely made up by him on set.
3. The Outsiders (1983)
With a cast that includes C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe. Emilio Estevez, and Tom Cruise it is no wonder this 80s classic from Francis Ford Copolla features so highly. When two local gangs clash and one boy is stabbed, tensions start to bubble over in the classic tale of social diversity. Stay gold Ponyboy, stay gold...
Did you know? Both Nicolas Cage and Mickey Rourke auditioned for roles in the film.
2. Dazed and Confused (1993)
I'm not too sure I've ever quoted a film more often than this one! The film is set on the final day of school in 1976 in a small town in Texas where the most important thing is to get high, drunk or laid. Matthew McConaughey stars in his first ever film and has stated that he line "alright, alright, alright!" was his first line ever spoken on camera, prompting it to become a catchphrase of his which he even used during his Oscar acceptance speech.
Did you know? The word "man" is said a total of 2013 times in the movie.
1. Stand By Me (1986)
Alright, alright, Mickey's a mouse, Donald's a duck, Pluto's a dog. What's Goofy? One of the best films ever made, let alone best coming of age movie! Rob Reiner's tale of four friends who go in search of a dead body was an instant classic. Anyone who doesn't know what you're talking about when you mention the train track scene should be abandoned as a friend immediately! Oh, God. That's weird. What the hell is Goofy?
Did you know? The film is based on Stephen King's short story The Body from his novella Different Seasons. Another short story from that book which became a classic is The Shawshank Redemption.