Currently at uni, I’m learning about how in western societies our ‘life course finds it’s orientation along the axis of age’. Basically, age and what we do have a direct correlation (school as a child, uni as a young adult, work as an older adult, retirement in old age etc) and the lecture went on to explain that we judge the maturity of other people based on achievements that match the ‘appropriate’ age. The interesting point was that this is of course not always necessarily true – we all know someone who despite being 30+ still ‘acts’ like an 18 year old, and it seems as though grading maturity according to age and completed achievements is not exactly useful.
Of course the development of our minds is related to our years lived. Think back to when you were fifteen and feel the difference in your worldly intelligence, your ability to understand things, or think outside of yourself. Like when you hear a joke in a movie you watched at 14 that you never understood at the time, but now at 24 upon a rewatching it clicks and makes sense, and you laugh. However, if you were to never be challenged, quizzed, cultured, taught etc then even if your brain was developing, it would just be arbitrary.
Does wisdom come with age, or experience?
Living through things is the beginning of life lessons. Learning from them, understanding why and how they happened, being able to look at and understand the situation from not only your perspective but others involved and outsiders too, seeing your part objectively and wondering if and how you could have changed it (if you wanted to) are all just as important as actually having an experience because it means that it didn’t just simply happen to you mindlessly.
Maturity, for that matter, is not dependent on what you do. Simply going to college, having a baby, getting a job, or getting a tattoo (yes I just lumped together getting a tattoo with having a baby, they’re both permanent) doesn’t make you ‘grown up’. It’s how you approach all of these things that really decides it. Do you leave your baby in the car on hot days with the windows up? Do you sexual harass your female coworkers through lame jokes that you then laugh raucously at? Did you get a tattoo from a drunk friend at a party? Of course, if you really want the tattoo and can calmly accept it without regret forever then I guess you’re okay. Calmly accepting leaving your baby in the car is a bit different, though, sorry. Now, if you always try to make your baby happy, healthy, safe and educated and not alone in a hot car then you’re doing a good job.
People put a lot of importance on maturity. It makes sense, you don’t want to hire an idiot who might slack off or injure someone, but the problem is with people who try to appear more mature than they are. The result is always the opposite. Just let those needs to be seen as an adult drop, concentrate on working hard, studying, being good to your friends, not letting your dog starve, stop hoon driving at 2am, etc and suddenly boom, other people will view you as someone who can ‘step up’ (as in dance really well like in the movie), takes things seriously, and be spoken to like a nice, normal person.
Oh, and being able to laugh and have fun is definitely not a sign of immaturity.
The only exception is if you decide to have a private giggle session at a funeral / in a customer’s face, or knowingly make inappropriate jokes to someone who won’t appreciate them because ‘stirring the pot’ is ‘cool’. Social norms fun, guys. Because being able to respect people and put yourself into their perspective decides the funniness of that boob joke.
In the eyes of strangers, your achievements completed at the ‘right age’ will be the suggested maturity level. To yourself, and those close around you, you know that your maturity is actually based on how and why you made those achievements, and how you handled them afterwards. It’s not the choice you make, it’s why you make it and how you accept it afterwards. For me, knowing that I am this old and still not finished a uni degree is excruciating when compared to other’s ages and their graduation ceremonies, but when I think of my decisions individually and I recognize that I am now working hard on that degree, I realise that the maturity for me came from not rushing it for the sake of keeping up with the other people on facebook.
[only the first part of the introduction of this post has come from (indirectly) my university course, the rest is my own thinking.]