What is maturity? From dictionary.com...
1. the period of time in your life after your physical growth has stopped and you are fully developed [syn: adulthood]
2. state of being mature; full development [ant: immatureness]
3. the date on which an obligation must be repaid
I've been struggling with how people express their maturity, or more pressing, their immatureness. The elder traditionalist foments discord. The learned solitaire spreads distention. Why do "mature" people act immature? Today I'm going to look into the nuances of maturity.
There are many aspects to life and a person can have relative levels in each aspect. A few aspects that I can think of are:
6) Ritual (Spiritual Technical)
Maturity is too often obtained through lots of hard work and diligence. Some maturity can be lucked into or gained from innate abilities, but such avenues lead to a maturity that has questionable staying power. Maturity with deep roots from trial and effort is the most strong.
There is a lot of overlap in these aspects. There can also be some incredible gaps. An example of a well-known stereotype would be the genius with technical maturity but little else. The same person would lack relationship maturity or emotional maturity.
The individual gaps of maturity are the chinks in a person's overall maturity. It should not be assumed that maturity in one area automatically spills over to another area. I think this is especially true with maturities like age, wealth or technical. In the spiritual realms the maturities of educational and ritual cannot assure maturity in other areas. The assumption that a person "has arrived" because a milestone has been made in one maturity is false. Life becomes a journey of building and maintaining maturity in multiple areas.
So what's up with the immaturity I believe I am seeing in the world? One observation I have is that group dynamics once again reign strong. The root of this group dynamic is mob mentality. People don't seem to be as immature on their own. Instead separate immaturities feed upon each other, with the sum being greater than the parts. The really interesting thing is that each person has their own set of maturity and immaturity. A group expression of immaturity seems to require a spark and then each person's own 'style' of immaturity kicks in. The end result is rarely pretty or honorable, but the individuals are held relatively blameless in the face of the mob mentality.
What is a person to do? The beginning is to have personal integrity in existing maturities. While the group dynamic is tempting, it is not an excuse for discarding hard-earned maturities. The other thing to do is to work on those areas where maturity is weak. How? I believe that definition #3, "the date on which an obligation must be repaid", holds a strong clue. There is an overlap of maturities. The attainment of one aspect of maturity asks for it to be "repaid". The person must live their life from that maturity. A maturity becomes stale and unsustainable when it is not practiced. The exercise of a maturity will strengthen those areas that have room for improvement. At the very least, use of existing maturities will keep one from plunging their immatures into mob mentality. The whole person is served when those aspects touched by maturity are 'repaid'.
Does the immaturity of a single person speak to the group to which they belong? Does an immaturity in one area invalidate the maturity in another aspect of life? These are topics to explore fully in another blog. I will say now that it is not fair to discredit a group because a member, no matter how 'mature' they are in some respect, acts out in immature ways. It is also unfair to completely discredit the person's maturities, but the overlap in life aspects begs a question of true maturity. Does the technical or ritual genius deserve a standing ovation for their mature skills when their 'people skills' - communication and emotional - lag far behind? This is a very good question.
A final word must be put in for those who are undergoing tough times in their lives. Psych 101 talks about people projecting or acting-out. Established maturities can slip. These are possibilities for occasions of immaturity, and they probably happen more often than we would like, but I believe this emphasizes the need for personal accountability. A person can notice if they are more argumentative or irritable. The individual then gets to ask themselves WHY, especially when others call them on this behavior.
So what of maturity? I believe that aspects of maturity overlap to build the realized character of a person. For good or bad, other people have to interact with this sum character. There are times that a person's immaturity is augmented by their buying into a mob mentality. The better alternative is to truly live the existing maturities, knowing that those areas where there is weakness will develop in turn. There are other times that life overcomes established maturities. The truest statement I can make is that maturity is a personal experience and a personal responsibility. Others experience our maturity. It is up to us, each individual, to both develop maturity and be accountable for the expressions of our maturity.