I think that as soon as we aware of age (when we’re toddlers), many of us, if not all, want to be older. Then we reach a certain point when we wish we were younger, and sometimes we fluctuate between the two desires. I remember that when I was in Middle School, a lot of my friends wanted to wear make-up, some of them wanted boyfriends, and they wanted to be in high school. I remember in High School, I felt a little left behind by people who were doing “adult” things. I wondered if I should be doing those things too. Would it make me feel older?
One of the things that made me feel insecure throughout High School and college was the feeling of being too young. I’ve been told by my peers that I’m not mature enough to understand the things they’re doing, or to engage in them. Perhaps I wasn’t mature enough to understand. I honestly couldn’t and I was judgmental. But does engaging in “adult” activities automatically make someone more mature?
In Dr. Tim Elmore’s article, “The Marks of Maturity,” he argues that young people (below the age of 24) are bombarded with more information than they can emotionally handle. Sociology professor Tony Campolo says that kids know too much too soon. They start learning about sex techniques, different kinds of drugs, relationships, and gather any kind of information available on the internet that they simple cannot emotionally handle yet. Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, a neuroscientist at Harvard’s Brain Imaging Center, says, “The frontal lobes of the brain which are responsible for high level reasoning and decision making aren’t fully mature until the early 20s.”
So, there is a very confusing and emotional time of life that we face when we’re between a child and an adult. We’re leaving childhood behind, and everything that entails, but that doesn’t mean we’re quite ready for all the responsibilities of adulthood. In this in-between phase, people who engage in “adult” activities aren’t adults yet because they are not mature enough.
Miriam-Webster defines maturity as “having or showing the mental and emotional qualities of an adult.” Dr. Elmore explains this a little more in depth. He says there are seven major signs of a mature person:
1. “A mature person is able to keep long-term commitments.” – This is when a person cares more about long-term effects rather than instant gratification.
2. “A mature person is unshaken by flattery or criticism.” – You are secure in your identity and aren’t easily swayed by what others say.
3. “A mature person possesses a spirit of humility.” – Humility is when you think of yourself less often and think of others more. You aren’t always trying to bring attention to yourself and are genuinely grateful for what others have contributed to your life.
4. “A mature person’s decisions are based on character not feelings.” – When you live by who you are rather than how you feel.
5. “A mature person expresses gratitude consistently.” – When you become aware of how grateful you should be for all you have.
6. “A mature person knows how to prioritize others before themselves.” – Learn to fulfill the needs of others rather than only your own desires.
7. “A mature person seeks wisdom before acting.” – Wise people are always seeking wisdom because they know they have so much left to learn.
Maturity is an attitude, a state of being, a frame of mind, and a perspective about yourself and the world. Maturity is not defined as engaging in the acts of an adult, it’s having the “mental and emotional qualities” of one. To add to Dr. Elmore’s list, I think being mature means taking responsibility for your decisions in life and trying to make the world around you better than the way you perceive it to be.