What does Maturity Really Mean?


noun: maturity

the state, fact, or period of being mature – where an individual is fully grown or developed.

Who in their right mind can judge whether one is fully grown or developed? This definition does not give any clear guidance. I may have a solution…

When we think about the word maturity, we don’t really give any real consideration as to what it truly means. To be compatible to a romantic partner, maturity goes a long way as a strong relationship is built on open and honest communication. The same goes for the strength of your relationships with family members, too. Not everyone gets along, most relationships fail, and not all family members see eye to eye, but why? Maturity plays a huge role in this – it’s tied down to behaviourism. How we behave as individuals is strongly linked to our temperament, openness, integrity and all of this boils down to how we handle our own negative emotions.

There are many different kinds of negative emotions that we face, perhaps day-to-day. Only one of them is truly linked to maturity. First of all, I’ll compare what all these truly mean and then I’ll move on to that very one.

Sadness – the fundamental negative emotion and probably the most common, we experience sadness for many different reasons, it’s an empty and hollow rumination of some negative thing that is happening, either right at this very instance or a glimpse of a bad memory of the past. Anger is an elevation this as well as all kinds of different negative emotions i.e., confusion, bitterness, jealousy, it’s what puts people in flight or fight mode and triggers the primordial part of our brain that tells us that we need to run away from a predator. It gets our blood pumping, our hearts racing, ultimately getting us ready to escape danger. In a highly stressful situation, when we experience anger, we will either freeze or flee, our emotions can take over our cognitive intuition and our actions. We think first, ask questions second, causing us to lose control of how we react. Rage is an extreme definition of anger – anger and rage are thought of as particularly biologically adapted emotions that we have to essentially not supress. It is not necessary to imply that frequent amount of stress/anger is a sign of immaturity but can rather oppose this belief, thereby it really depends on how the anger has developed. Think twice about calling your adolescent immature just on observing a tantrum alone and get to know the real cause of it therefore unless the following applies just tell them to stop being such a ‘Kevin’. There is another negative emotion I still have to mention that is crucial for this topic – resentfulness. Anger, if caused by sudden realisation of an unprecedented event or situation and if the individual hasn’t ruminated on the cause of it for too long, it would be wrong to suggest that person is immature. However, on the flip side of that, if that individual has indeed dwelled on something for too long, even if that individual hasn’t turned angry, it would be correct to assume that they are immature.

The crucial aspect of resentfulness is how the power of articulation can flip the switch to form better relationships with everyone around you. Malevolence is very prevalent in this world; some people can never recover from it. It is widely known that there are people in the corners of society who just simply get kicks out of bringing people down. It’s harshly unavoidable. However, to some people perhaps, it may often be unclear as to why your best friend, your brother, your sister, your own child, has a problem in the case that you’ve done something wrong. Maybe they’re ignoring you, or will help you out with something only to make very little effort doing so, without you really knowing as to why. These are classic signs of resentfulness. A good analogy of this emotion is to say that if you are resentful because of someone’s actions, they are living in your head rent free. You wouldn’t allow that, to let someone you really despise to take up your personal space like that, so why should you allow your thoughts to ruminate on them? That would be a stupid thing to do! This is exactly why resentfulness is such a strong indicator to measure immaturity in a person. A mature person would battle their resentments in only one way, because there is only one way. Communicate. The mature use their words in an expressive and open way importantly though in a way that doesn’t cause any conflict or animosity.

What can we take from this?

Use your words! Learn how to express your feelings, act quick! Don’t carry the load of despair on your shoulders longer than you have to. If you are not comfortable with conflict or if you are scared that your assertiveness creates an impression on somebody that will take you as a martyr then you still have a lot to learn about growing up, or perhaps you shouldn’t be spending so much time with person.

Articulation really is the most powerful tool we have at our disposal, if we can truly communicate our wants; needs and desires we can get very far in this world. People will give you opportunities or anything you bloody well want for that manner!  An important rule – do not stumble when things do not go your way, if you consistently aren’t getting the things that you want then work on how you are communicating those desires.

From personal experience, I have had to deal with a lot of animosity, I was bullied, I never got what I wanted, I didn’t get along very well with my parents, I was scared to look people in the eye and fiercely despised the word no. Then what happened?  Well, before I learned to assert myself, I would often get angry, as a product of my bitter prolonged resentfulness. I often thought that the world was against me, and maybe some of you are reading this now and have similar thoughts, let me tell you that is not the case of you vs the whole wide world. As I got a bit older, I somehow shifted my thought patterns. Meditation helped to some degree (Look out for some of my meditation articles that I write for this magazine) because I grew more compassionate of other peoples wants and needs thus eliminating further dread that I am being emotionally attacked by others people’s selfishness or so called ‘malevolence’. The fact is, that I was being selfish, perhaps in an honest statement I was toxic to a lot of people too, but my underdevelopment caused that, I was a small fish in a big pond so to speak, I left home at the age of 22, looking back that was a very early age. I had to hold responsibilities that I was not truly ready for. Anyway, with the heavy load of regret and bitterness on my shoulders I had someone (who I won’t mention) who brought me to the realisation that I was not the victim of any of my misconduct. I was in fact, immature and held far too much resentfulness that I like to admit. It was exactly the kick in the teeth I needed.

The whole point really, of voicing your opinions and asserting control over a potentially frightening situation that you may feel if you go head on towards could indeed cause an argument that could easily be avoided if you do or say nothing, that by the way definitely is not going to work for you, simply because the problem isn’t going to be resolved! Do not assume that you will be right, you need to be told what is right and what is wrong so that you learn and can go ahead and say thank you to that person for telling you how stupid you have been, at least then you can assess the situation and shake hands, isn’t that much better than giving the silent treatment, like a child would?

Be humble all throughout your development, it may be cliché for me tell you that you are not perfect, obvious more like, thereby give yourself enough leeway and prepare yourself to be given a lecture or two. Maturity isn’t about how old you are, we don’t all have to be highly articulated at any given age, it’s more of the process of how we learn our own language, what we words we use, the structure of our sentences, the tone of our voice, and the amount of skill we possess at negotiating with people, as long as we hold valuable social norms and moral obligations. Read books, analyse what we watch on tv, think about what role models you may have and how they live so fulfilled lives, observe how they talk, act and think.

If everybody was to escape from resentfulness, we could all live in a society that is free from hate and even mature enough to see the imperfections of the world and deal with them in a sophisticated manner.

This is article was written by Josh Coombes.
A 27-year-old freelance writer from Shropshire, UK.

With a passion to personal development, I have worked as a radio presenter for a community radio station that targets stigma surrounding mental health. I believe the world can be a better place, if we all spread enough love around, everyone will be happier and live more fulfilled lives.