Maturity – What does it mean to be mature?
By Duane Hewitt
Have you ever stopped to consider what it means to be mature? What is maturity? Is it just a relative term? What are the qualities of maturity?
We may have thought we were reasonably mature at 17. Then, by the time we hit 30, we might have looked back on our lives and decided that, yes, now at the age of 30 we certainly feel mature. But as the years progress and our thinking and even our values either change or come into question, we might start to wonder, “Just what is maturity?”
Few people ever really take the time to consider the meaning of maturity. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines maturity as “the quality of behaving mentally and emotionally like an adult.” But really, what does this tell us?
Perhaps it can be said that maturity is the moving away from a need for care and supervision with a move toward healthy, functional independence of a primarily emotional and intellectual nature. But it also means responding appropriately to a broad range of circumstances. As we grow and experience life and observe and partake of different cultures and ways of thinking, we may find that our personal definitions of maturity change – or, conversely, we may just find that there are certain signposts to maturity that we hold to be true and unwavering regardless of background, culture, or education.
Perhaps it can be said that the following points are indicative of a person’s maturity:
- Temper, anger, and emotional outbursts are properly managed;
- The individual does not insult or ridicule;
- There is no inclination to indulge in hateful words or rumor;
- One does not make false accusations;
- Others are duly respected, particularly elders and authority;
- Unsolicited and unwanted opinions are not offered, particularly when those opinions are unsubstantiated and without fact;
- When views and perspectives are offered, they are put forth respectfully;
- The individual takes care of themselves emotionally, physically, and mentally, though not obsessively;
- Criticism and flattery are kept in perspective;
- Both pride and humility are also kept in perspective;
- One seeks to inform oneself through an understanding of the facts;
- A mature person seeks to do the right thing; often in the face of wrongdoing;
- They aspire to keep their word and hold to their commitments;
- They act responsibly and set good examples for others;
- A mature person is not a gossip or a busybody;
- A mature person thinks before they speak;
- They deal tolerantly with those whom they believe to be foolish and ignorant;
- A mature person tries not to judge.
If we know ourselves to be thoughtful, insightful, and intelligent individuals, we tend to find that we enjoy interactions with others who can interact with us in mature ways. It should also be kept in mind that, as human beings, we have failings. For this reason, we might sometimes fall short of what we hold to be mature, but this in no way means we lack the qualities of maturity.
Certainly, a mature person will aspire to nurture maturity in the self while appropriately encouraging others to do the same.
Copyright 2017 Duane Hewitt. All rights reserved.