Maturity Much of life is spent reconciling one’s perceptions with those of the rest of the world. There is one concept though in which I am particularly adamant about my definition. On more than one account, in fact almost daily, I am accused of being “immature.” I forget everything, I am constantly late, and I laugh at childish jokes. Many eyes have been rolled at my expense; my behavior is, in a word, juvenile. But this accusation does not bother be so much because I have learned the distortion of its meaning. I shrug it off, because I see that their use of the word maturity does not encompass its authentic meaning. True maturity should not be confused with responsibility, and it does not correspond to other people’s standards. Make no mistake, I conceded that losing my keys and watching cartoons are indeed silly and childish things to do, but acting juvenile has no bearing on real maturity – in fact, in a way I propose the opposite. Maturity is the ability to find joy and contentedness in the face of such judgments and contrasting perceptions. Rather than conceding to a superficial standard that another determines “appropriate behavior,” a mature person has the intrinsic motivation to learn happiness in their own way, to find meaning and worth through all experiences of life, however anomalous or irrelevant they may seem to others. I have heard many people condemn others to mediocrity because they are “immature,” sometimes because they are frivolous and nonchalant like myself, or perhaps less responsible, less focused, or less successful than some preconceived threshold. But this is a very ignorant assertion to make. The assumption they are making is that everyone has the same standards, and that it would be much more mature to crush oneself into society’s mold of a respectable and together person. I believe this in and of itself to be immature. It is immature to restrict one’s worth and happiness to the rigid standards of society. Someone
may very well be ambitious and determined, may strain themselves to get a perfect GPA or strive for a lucrative career, they may own a four-door sedan and live in the most sophisticated manner. But if they are motivated by convention or social standing to achieve these things, that’s not maturity – that’s vanity. What makes a person mature is the courage to carve for themselves a unique sense of what is important in life, instead of caving in to the pressure of what others believe is right. I like what inventor Doug Engelbert said: “maturity is directly proportional to the embarrassment one can tolerate.” A mature person is above judgment of another’s lifestyle, but most importantly resilient to judgment t from others. He is independent in the design of his own life. For example, an immature person might chastise someone for not meticulously planning their future or “having their priorities in order.” But a mature person will see that their priorities are in the exact order they wish them to be. I believe that to be mature does not require a single practical bone in your body, all it requires is to experience life from different angles, to search for joy and passion, and to do this unrestricted by judgment. So I may have the sense of humor of a twelve-year-old, you may be a bum, he may be impulsive and she may be unworldly, but so long as we are consciously making a path for ourselves which we can truly validate and respect, we are as mature as any man that ever lived.