Maturity is one of those buzz words that everyone seems to have their own definition for.
Most times you hear “maturity” thrown around, it is in connection to some level of responsibility. Maturity is often used as a descriptor for people that “have their shit together”, i.e., own a house, have a stable job, etc. Another fallacy surrounding maturity is that it has anything to do with age. The truth is, maturity is all about who you are as a person, not what you have or how long you’ve been around. Maturity is about how you conduct yourself. Yes, there is a correlation between responsibility and maturity, but it isn’t responsibility that defines maturity – it is maturity that allows for responsible behavior.
When it comes to defining REAL maturity, here are a few signs to look for:
Ability to Communicate
One misconception about communication is that you have to do a lot of it to be effective. Effective communication requires more listening than speaking. Effective communication also requires a certain level of thought before speaking. Where a lot of people fail at EFFECTIVE communication, is that they just spout off the first thing that comes to mind. Reactive communication, while it has its place in certain situations, is rarely effective. Keep in mind, when you are communicating with others, quantity is not quality.
Ability to Debate without Being Defensive
We all have our own ideas and opinions, and I can promise you: no matter how concise they may be – someone will always argue against them. Real maturity is the ability to debate your point without getting defensive. At some point, you have to be able to tell someone:”I guess we will agree to disagree.” That doesn’t involve insulting them, belittling them, or judging them. Give others the same respect of their opinions that you want them to give yours, no matter how wrong they think you are.
As important as it is to accept yourself for the things you like about yourself, it is even more important to accept the things that you don’t like. There is a very distinct and cyclical nature between knowing yourself and trusting yourself. You have to first know yourself to be able to trust yourself – good or bad. If you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, you can appropriately trust yourself to deal with anything that involves those strengths and weaknesses. Self-acceptance has nothing to do with harping on yourself about what you are bad at, it has to do with understanding your flaws and dealing with them constructively.
Consciousness is synonymous with awareness, and that is a pretty good correlation to make. Being conscious doesn’t just involve you, though. It involves being aware of everyone around you. Yes, it is great to be fully aware of your own emotional state, situation, and general goings-on in your own life. But being completely ignorant of everyone around you is like walking through life with a box on your head. A huge part of maturity goes back to that “being responsible” thing. One thing we are all responsible for, to a point, is the people around us.
Ability to Accommodate Versus Arguing
Again, this goes back to people having different ideas when it comes to just about anything in life. As we mature, we begin to realize that sometimes our idea isn’t the absolute best. It’s a matter of compromise. We have to be able to set our ego aside to be able to accept outside input, and use it effectively. Saying “fine, we’ll do it your way”, and then being a brat is not how this works.
Personal Growth is a Pursuit, not a Task
Finally, and most importantly, a sign of real maturity is your willingness to work on who you are as a person. When we are immature, we assume that we are the best that we can be. Our egos have us convinced that there is nothing to “fix”. The problem with that mentality is: there doesn’t have to be anything that is “broken” for us to improve ourselves as people. That is the common misconception, though. People think that self-improvement or self-growth only exists to address something that is lacking, instead of building on something that we are already good at. Self-growth should be something that we do because we want to be better, not something we do because we assume something about us isn’t up to speed.