What is maturity?
Am I mature?
Am I going to be mature?
Am I maturing?
Or am I just a kid?
Sometimes, I want to be a kid, you see. It’s much easier that way.
And I suppose, over the years… I did develop this persona of a youthful kid, full of harmless fun, joyful tone and colors. In some ways, it makes people less guarded around me, and also makes it easier to talk to them. (And yes, I guess it helps that I look quite young as well).
But the difficult thing is… I also want to be someone… who is… well, mature. Because who wouldn’t?
However, it seems that in general, the majority of people seem to measure maturity simply by how seemingly thoughtful you are. People seem to perceive someone’s maturity by how many serious looks they can pull, by how many confusing “deep” roundabout thoughts that they can share, or even by how many words of wisdom that they can quote and post online.
Those characteristics, of course, aren’t necessarily wrong.
But is that really what maturity is all about?
I lived enough time in my past years thinking about “complicated-deep-stuff” that often doesn’t really lead me to anywhere. I also questioned many, many things around me, and memorized some wonderful quotes that probably served as nothing more than simple knowledge, which again, didn’t really lead me to anywhere. So yes, I suppose that you can certainly be “thoughtful”, while being lost and immature at the same time.
So I contemplated this for a pretty long while, read articles, observed people, and thought about it some more. And finally, in my incomplete pursuit of understanding maturity… I found that to be mature is to possess these 5 characteristics.
- Be teachable
Being mature doesn’t mean that you know enough things in life. And perhaps, the most mature people I know are the people who are humble enough to stay teachable.
However, being teachable also means that you must also be able to bend without breaking: to be unshakable by criticism, while staying true to yourself and being secure in your identity, without conforming to the demands of society.
- Be humble
Humility doesn’t mean that you thought less of yourself. It isn’t the antonym of confidence. Instead, it means that you are not consumed by the desire of drawing attention to yourself. It is the ability to stay grounded when you are showered with flattery.
Perhaps, it is about finding the balance of being confident in your own capabilities, while understanding that you need the help of others.
And simply, it is to have the heart that is able to prioritize others around you.
- Be able to have long-term vision and commitment
My dreams are often adventurous, but for most of the times, they seem distant and somewhat fleeting.
But I guess, as we mature, we must be able to learn how to keep commitments even when they are no longer new or novel. After all, ideas, relationship, and experiences are always exciting when it’s something new. But the real battle of life I suppose comes when we need to keep the momentum going, continuously persevering towards the goals that we have set before us.
- Be able to make decisions based on your values.
And not based on your emotions.I believe, part of the reasons we experience so many “teenage-angsty-dramas” is because we often made decisions, and speak things based on our emotions.
But as we are growing to be a little bit more mature… I believe that we should always try to have a clear set of values and principles that should guide our decisions. Of course it’s not easy. After all, humans are often referred to as creatures of emotions, guided by impulses, heart and feelings.
But if we were to try asking ourselves who we really wanted to be, I believe that we would slowly come to a place where we will have a clearer picture of our values… and act on it.
And it also means that you know how to forgive and move on, even if somebody hurts you or even when you are faced with disappointments. After all, the decision has nothing to do with the perpetrator, and everything to do with you.
- Be grateful
Lastly, a grateful heart is always a sign of maturity. Immature children presume they deserve everything good that is given to them. And sometimes, they even demand it.
But as we grow to be a little more mature… I believe that we learn that we cannot take things for granted. That everything happens for a reason. And thus, we should be grateful for whatever experience that is bestowed upon us.
And no matter who we are, it is good to remember that we are who we are, not because of ourselves… but because of the learning experience we have with countless others around us. So give thanks for your friends, family, and perhaps even the people who you disagreed with. And of course, give thanks to God, your Creator, who gave you the chance to learn new things every passing day.
No, I’m not claiming that I fully possess these characteristics. But these are the things that I’m trying to strive for… and the goal that I encourage all of you to strive to be.
And thus this pursuit is a continuous fight, a continuous struggle.
Because perhaps… maturity is all about the process, instead of the destination.
And lastly, remember, it’s a journey within ourselves, and not a race against others.
All the best. 🙂