|When does a person reach full maturity? Do we at all?|
A couple of days ago, M and I drove a few blocks to pick up K from her friends house.
The two of them came out and got to talking about these two teenage boys who stole K's bike a few months back.
M made a statement that they were just kids who wanted to be mean, and K responded that,
"Actually, they're teenagers. They're fourteen."
M repeated that, "No, they were just kids."
K's friend went on to ask, "Why does thirteen have the word teen in it then? Because, technically, K and I are teens."
M told them that they were still kids. That they were only two years past playing with dolls. True, but...
A, my step-son, said, "It has to do with maturity, I think."
And M disagreed.
I didn't chime in, and really, I don't really know why, but I should have.
For me, I agree with the girls that they are, in fact, teenagers.
They may be only two years past playing with dolls, but they're also only two years away from starting sophomore year of high school, one year away from when I first started smoking cigarettes and marijuana, and three years away from when I lost my virginity.
With what A said, I do agree with him in the fact that, age itself, does really rely on maturity.
But being a teenager in only another stage of learning maturity.
Becoming a teenager is just a rite of passage. It happens to everyone. No one skips out on being a teenager. But does that mean that there is such a thing as a mature teenager vs. an immature teenager? Yes!
Of course, that doesn't mean the mature teenager is a mature adult. Or even will be!
What maturity really has to do with age, is that as you're exiting your teenage years, hopefully you're actually exiting those teenage years, and not getting stuck inside them; making you incapable of reaching a higher level of maturity.
Sadly, some people just don't exit that stage of their life. Whether it's by choice, or simply because they didn't have the proper "tools" to transition out of it.
There's also people who simply get booted out of their teenage years as soon as they turn eighteen. Maybe because their parents expect them to be ready. Or even how society expects you to be totally ready as soon as they graduate high school.
Unfortunately, teens get pressured pretty easily by not just their parents, but by teachers, adults they might work with, sometimes even friends who are set and ready to go and are trying to get you to follow them. You grow up believing that if you go to college, you'll fall into a great career immediately after, and then at some point, you realize that most of the time that's not the case.
So teenagers are conflicted on what to do. If it'll matter.
Throughout my high school years, having gone to three different high schools, I got to know a lot of students who were basically set on the fact that they were never gunna get anywhere in life.
Most of it had to do with how they were raised, how their parents treated them, or if their parents even cared.
Luckily I did know a few who, at least, wanted to give it a try. No matter how they were brought up.
But I think a lot of pessimistic thinking also comes from all the other pessimists out there in the world who continue to tell you that "college doesn't matter."
And to me, you can honestly succeed at anything as long as you're determined enough and have passion where it belongs. That's not being "optimistic," that is being realistic!
Kids spend their whole lives trying to figure where their place is in the word, what they want to be when they grow up, that I think they miss out on just "growing up."
They don't have time to really "mature" at the stages they need to. As you probably know, that doesn't really change as we progress in age.
It's just what people do! We are constantly thinking about "who we are," "who we want to be," and "if we're who we're 'supposed' to be."
Questions are not "maturity." Questions don't get you anywhere. Actions do!
I think more than anything, significant life events, life altering situations, or being stuck in a too-chaotic or too-calm environment are what "matures" a person.
Think if you knew somebody who had never felt pain, anger, sadness, regret, guilt, or fear in their entire lives.
What kind of person do you think they would be?
If you didn't understand what pain, anger, sadness, regret, guilt, or fear, could you really progress as a human being, having been stuck in a consistent place or feeling?
The same goes vice versa!
People tend to think of maturity as a physical thing. That as soon as you're an adult, whether that be someone who is eighteen, or twenty-one, or twenty-five, you are mature! You should know how to handle yourself!
However, maturity is when something reaches it's absolute, full-level of development.
Your body will be mature at it's prime. And as age progresses, the maturity of your body declines, because it has reached it's full-level of development.
Think of a fruit! A young fruit will not have the taste and color that it will when it is ripe. When that fruit has reached it's full-level of development, it starts to go bad.
I guess you could consider your body at death fully mature, because it has reached it full and final stage. It depends on how you want to look at it or how you define material maturity.
But mentally and emotionally, maturity has a different definition.
Psychologically, maturity is when someone is able to respond to the environment or situation in an appropriate manner.
So when you are thirty-three years old shopping at the grocery store, and a man starts to shoot off his gun and tells you to get down on the ground, and you decide to taunt the gunman, you would have responded inappropriately in that environment.
If you're sixteen, and someone is going around stealing people's valuables on the bus you're on, and you go up to the bus driver to inform him of what the man is doing, you responded to that situation appropriately.
Depending on what, A.) How the bus driver responded, or B.) How the pick-pocketer responded, depends on their level of maturity.
This type of maturity is learned throughout your life. Trials and errors of reactions to situations or environments.
If you grow up surrounded by people who aren't capable of teaching you how to properly respond to certain situations and environments, you can't expect to achieve a higher level of mental maturity.
Though sometimes, you'll have someone slip through the cracks.
Personally, when I hear the word "maturity," I think of the psychological, emotional maturity. The "substance" of maturity. We learn this maturity, hopefully.
Physical or tangible maturity is just what happens to all of us naturally.
I think that if people weren't so focused on the questions of "who" they are, spending time on actually just BEING, growing up, doing, mental maturity would come more easily and readily.
I think confidence plays a huge role in maturity. When someone isn't confident, or they are too self aware, they feel like they simply can't move forward. When you don't move forward, you don't progress in maturity. Think of people who are constantly down on themselves or have no positive outlook on life.
"I'm a failure," "I'm ugly," "I can't do it," "Life sucks," "I fucked up that interview," "That girl looked at me funny."
Like that person example above, the one who is stuck in a consistent feeling or place, you will not progress.
If you could tell yourself: "I am improving," "I am beautiful," "I can do it," "Life is interesting," "That interview was tough, but I did good," "I can't believe that girl finally noticed me!"
Instilling confidence would greatly help in building up maturity.
That doesn't mean all insecure people aren't mature! I just think they have the potential to build it up higher.
Am I a "confident" person? In some ares, sure! But no one is 100% confident in anything...and if you are, you're probably very presumptuous.
Okay, so back to the conversation these kiddos started.
K is now thirteen years old. Her body is definitely becoming very mature. She's getting hips and breasts, and womanly legs. She's starting to become a woman! Exciting, and scary.....
But is she a mature teenager? In some ways I think she is, but like everyone else, it's going to take time, situations, and a healthy level of confidence for her to feel her place in the world.
Because that's what maturity is about: Knowing your place in the world, and maybe eventually, knowing yourself!
That's where maturity is confusing. No one can say for sure that they know exactly who they are. You learn something new about yourself all the time! You are constantly changing! So is anyone really "mature" in the way that you KNOW who you are? Is maturity about how wise someone is? Or is it just being able to handle yourself appropriately in all situations? Is it both?
I guess it's how you see it.
For me, I feel like there are "mature" people. But I don't believe that anyone can reach their full potential of maturity because one is always learning. One is always changing. Situations are always coming into your life.
Anytime we tell a kid that us "adults" don't really have it all figured out, or they ask a question we can't answer, they look at us in shock and disbelief.
"But you're an ADULT!" They say.
Is that the underlying reason of why most kids feel the need to "be an adult?"
Maybe it's not entirely them wanting to be able to do whatever they want, but its more that they just want to know. Sigh, don't we all?
I don't factor in age as a number when it comes down to maturity because of that simple fact above: We don't have it all figured out. And if that's what it means to be mature, than really, none of us are there.
I don't know, I guess I'm pretty stuck on what it really means to be mature. When you become an "adult."
Do you think levels of maturity are actually levels of knowledge about yourself and the world?
Or is maturity being able to handle yourself in any situation?
Do you think confidence plays a role in maturity?
Or is there even such a thing as maturity?
Feel free to leave comments below. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
This was all, purely opinion and thought. Share yours with me!