People used to say that maturity comes with aging. If I were to explain this, I would probably associate it with the common knowledge that since old people had lived ahead of us, they practically had more experiences and skills in terms of living and surviving day-to-day life. Hence, they are considered as epitomes of experienced beings, and are therefore referred to as the most knowledgeable creatures among other creations. This makes them credible decision-makers that whatever they say must be the right thing because after all, they basically knew or experienced that situation already. They are revered people for their expertise.
While the belief may still hold water now, maturity’s meaning in today’s state cannot easily be confined to age only. By definition, maturity occurs when a person responds in an appropriate manner, given a situation or environment. Psychology attributes this not only to physical developments, but also to lifelong processes involving cognition, emotional, social, and moral development. In other words, the more we encounter instances that would count as learning experiences, the more that we enhance our maturity.
In my twenty years of encounter with the unknown aka life, maturity is something that was nurtured and developed in me over the course of time. Here, then, are the five signs that I find good indicatives of maturity:
1. Your selection or choice of words.
With an understanding that your words may have a lasting effect to the hearer or addressee, you become selective of what you say. Gone are the days that you think out loud and care less about its outcome afterward. In situations when you can’t help or it is but needed to say hurtful things, (for example you need to let someone know of his wrongdoing), you craft the appropriate words and say it in the most possible humane manner – without degrading or belittling him. You become sensitive to one’s feeling, thinking that this could make or break him.
2. You get EXTREMELY compassionate.
Saw that street child begging for food? You gave him yours. Bumped into a stray cat while walking home? You offered your old shoe box as a temporary shelter while you look for someone to adopt it. Yes, when I said extremely compassionate, I meant that you become aware of other’s suffering and hardships that you make an effort to extend help. In this case, you become emotionally and socially concerned with conflicts surrounding your community and nation, and you make sure that you actively participate in causes or efforts that would solve them. You sympathize with people. You feel their pain and you make a conscious move to relieve or ease it. Somehow, you feel responsible for them.
3. You take responsibility.
While you feel responsible for something, you actually take action to make it happen. No matter how dreadful the situation might be for you, or how insurmountable the pressure to live up to the expectation would be, you face them all, head up high. You become independent and you do things without much guidance from your parents or mentors. It is not that you already know everything. It’s just that you have come to a point where you feel confident in yourself, and you trust your capabilities. Regardless of the outcome, you take in-charge of your actions and decisions, and that makes you more mature.
4. You understand the people that hurt you.
While hurting people’s feelings is not the ideal thing to happen in love, you recognize that people hurting each other are inevitable cases that happen to everyone. No one is exempted, so instead of blaming or hating the person that hurt you, you try to understand where they were coming from. Is he not ready yet? Was I the one at fault? No matter how big it makes you of a martyr, you accepted the fact that that is how life goes on. At least, it made you forgiving and accepting to harsh realities like human behaviors.
5. You accept that there is actually no perfect indication of one’s maturity.
At this point, you realize that life’s a continuous process of learning. Hence, an opportunity to live is also an opportunity to learn, grow, and mature. A stage of becoming wholly mature becomes totally dubious, for the reason that we continuously improve ourselves while experiencing life. Therefore, you resort to setting into the wild and to making good use of your God-given talents. You question your life’s purpose because that may be your best way to cultivate yourself, while simultaneously helping the world change for the better. You become a prime mover by knowing your passion, doing something about it, and sharing it to the rest.