You can look up the word “maturity” in the dictionary and find many definitions. And when you hear the word you might even come up with a couple of caricatures, the kind of images that a mature person is supposed to look like. But I want to challenge the notion here that maturity is some thing that can be acquired, like a certificate or award by just going through the motions in life. Indeed, this word carries with it heavy weight that’s taken for granted. A few myths:
Maturity only comes when you age: I’m sure you can think of people, adults, who are well into their advanced ages yet lack this quality. And there are young ones who demonstrate acute insight and a depth of character, unusual for their years. We tend to call them prodigies. You can’t exactly put your finger on it, but you know when it’s there.
Everyone matures: If this were the case, there’d be no need for me to produce this post. Whether you’re waiting on the train and have to force your way in because the person in front of you refused to make space, or your very good friend just can’t say no to spending all his cash on booze, you have an inherent understanding that maturity isn’t something everyone possesses.
My definition of maturity: a sense of self-awareness and awareness of the world possessed by a person of wisdom.
My definition may be far from Webster’s, but I want to highlight a few aspects of this. The sense: like your other senses, it’s a means that you use to view the world and exist in it. Maturity comes with a certain level of consciousness irrespective of age. Your priorities change. Those things you used to give all of your energy to now take a back seat as you realize there are more important, more valuable contributions you can make in the world. You start thinking globally over locally. You accept responsibility for your actions and their consequences. Relationship dynamics become clear to you and you don’t become an emotional disaster from them. Maturity is a seat you earn your right to sit on by attaining wisdom.
Can you see why this would be a vital quality to have when entering college?
The college environment is vastly different from high school. In high school, you’re prepared for everything, tracked and all kinds of administrative staff and faculty are on top of you to complete your work. The goal is to move to the next stage: graduation.
In college, no one chases you to complete work. No one chases you to do anything. You may receive support, but the buck stops there and you have no guarantees that you’ll pass, unless you accept responsibility and do the work. You’re responsible for your course work. Completing exams. Making it to class. Forming study groups. Joining organizations. Growing yourself. Finding a job. All of the elements your life outside college will include are mostly provided in the university. And if you’re not mature enough to handle taking initiative with these choices on campus, you set yourself up for a challenge later on in life. Don’t be a maturity late bloomer.
Find mature friends. Cannot stress enough the importance of knowing the kind of friends you have. Their values become yours. Their goals influence yours. Their conduct eventually wears off on you and this can be so subtle you won’t realize, but others will. Connect with friends who have a mature mindset, are concerned with important issues happening in the world.
Fill your mind with mature content. Constantly reading junk news and watching goofy role models on television will do the opposite of what maturity brings: wisdom. Enjoy your occasional comedic gag reel once in awhile, but do so consciously and without overindulgence.
Expect maturity in your actions and thoughts. If you hold yourself to a standard, your conduct will reflect it. So expect maturity in your speech, movement and ideas and you will exude it. The world will respond in kind.
It’s time to get tough. Own up to your choices. Own the maturity you know you deserve.