Cover art: Sadia Islam
"Do any men grow up or do they only come of age?” - Stephen King, The Gunslinger
Birthdays come and go and every year we hope to feel big and grown-up, yet nothing seems to change. People hope that some sort of magic would zap maturity into them and change them. Yet they never feel any different.
Maturity is such a vague term. When the common man discusses maturity, they refer to it as the proper way of acting in front of people. People have an idea is that it means getting older and becoming boring and well-behaved (shudders). Some say maturing involves being more conservative rather than liberal. And that maturity is always related to age.
'Mature' can be broken down and used to describe people who've attained certain traits - responsibility, honesty, knowledge, compassion. I can hear you snoring already. Though you can't argue the fact that maturity comes with experience as experience makes you wiser.
“Maturity is being the first one to apologise after a fight. It's about learning from your mistakes,” says Aditi, an O level student.
If you and your best friend fight, and you know she's stubborn, being the bigger person and saying sorry shows that you understand priorities; that you know that there are bigger things in life than winning arguments. Does it mean you should just give up every time she flies off the handle and is being stubborn? No. But being mature, you'll realise how in that state she is not in a receptive mood for criticism. That's another bastion: you have to accept constructive criticism with grace.
Being independent is a step towards maturity because you get to trust and rely on yourself. When you expect too much from people, they often end up disappointing you. Doesn't mean you shouldn't have faith in people, just that you should be able to handle things on your own in an emergency. But that moves in to the territory of responsibility; we think we can handle ourselves. Yet even at the tiniest things we turn to our parents for help. We never know what to do. We don't study, and we have to be pushed (bribed in extreme cases), we don't clean our rooms, we don't even get up to get a glass of water. We scream at the bua, we yell at our parents and hence, they say no to everything. Now, if we acted just a little more sensibly things might just work out our way, don't you think?
Once you understand your priorities, you get an idea of the priority of others. Empathy, it's a pretty big deal. Mature people are able to sympathise and genuinely console someone else.
It involves knowing the right thing to do or say, being prepared for situations beforehand and avoiding problems. It's about how someone reacts and it's believed that a mature person always reacts rationally and calmly. How many of us can actually do the effective thing at the right time? For example, people talk about helping the poor and concoct huge plans which never work out. Afrin, a 12-year old, carries five and ten taka notes with her all the time just to make sure she never has to say no to a beggar. She says she saves her lunch money for this.
“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” - C.S.Lewis
People's ideas of maturity change. Think about who you would label mature: the child, the teen or the adult? Children view maturity as being serious and boring; teenagers relate it to freedom and having a voice of their own and being opinionated while adults edge towards responsibility and respectful actions. And every single person tries to act mature. You think adults aren't scared or fazed? Why do you think your dad calls you if you are an hour late?
One of the biggest issues that every human faces is the existential crisis. Why am I here? What is the point of it all? According to psychological research, “maturity emphasises a clear comprehension of life's purpose and intentionality which contributes to the feeling that life is meaningful.” We don't actually buy it. Whether you are religious or atheist or you just don't care, there are things you do not know. “Maturity has everything to do with the acceptance of 'not knowing.” - Mark Z. Danielewski.
Maturity is when you're studying reproduction in biology and you don't snicker. Erm, well said, wasn't it? Yes, that includes picking up on innuendos. You have to understand the thrust of the argument and burst through the miasma of hormonal compulsion. Yeah, keep a straight face.
Now you may ask: how can someone become mature? And this writer would say, “Why would you want to be mature? Immaturity means fun. Don't be a bore.” Of course, she's supposed to be telling you things like “Be responsible” and “Get out of your comfort zone and gain some experience” but she doesn't want to be a hypocrite.
Thing is, yours truly is rarely responsible and she doesn't want to help people unless it benefits her. She judges by looks, and she eats dessert before dinner. She's going to scream at her parents about getting a new laptop. She's always going to slam doors when she's mad. And she's probably going to smirk next time in bio class. Then why is she writing all this?
Maybe it's because she wants to learn.
“Maturity includes the recognition that no one is going to see anything in us that we don't see in ourselves. Stop waiting for a producer. Produce yourself.”