I’m at a marvelous point in life where I am financially self-sufficient but still short of that next step—when one settles into a real job and can truly start making some decent bank. I pay my bills, manage to clean up my apartment so it’s not a total dump, and forage for food at my local No Frills on a regular basis. Am I an adult? Am I mature? Or is all of this just irrelevant information trying to conceal the fact I’m definitely nothing more than just a big kid?
I’ve worked two to three jobs more or less seven days a week for the last two years or so—does that qualify me for the next level? I’m probably just as likely to laugh at a decidedly childish fart joke as I am a musical pun if someone’s been Haydn one away. Where’s the line? Is there one?
No. There isn’t a set mark, at least not a hard one. For the most part, as in when someone calls you one or the other, maturity is merely a perception others have of you, and one that—even as a perception (a.k.a. someone’s opinion)—isn’t necessarily correct. Most people in our lives aren’t conscious of every last minute detail that affects our day-to-day existence, and this is important because maturity is a whole equation; it can’t be calculated with only a fraction of the picture.
I had drinks a few weeks ago with a pal who has only ever seen me in a recreational context—purely fun friends. I like to try and stay positive, have some fun, goof off, laugh hysterically at inane moments, and even have a bit too much to drink from time to time…when I’m hanging out. He has never seen me work, struggle through hardship, or even perform the most basic of tasks we consider to be “adult.” In short, the only time we interact is when there’s a pitcher on the table and some laughs being shared with similarly inebriated chums. I suppose it should have come as little surprise to me, then, when I mentioned how I thought I wanted something more mature from romantic pursuits that he snorted and replied, “Ha! You?!”
It definitely stung a bit. I guess it’s fair though. If that’s the only time he sees me, it stands to reason that that’s the impression he’ll have.
That’s really something that everyone needs to remember because if those are the only occasions when you’re with those people you should both understand and not be bothered by what they think. You should have enough self-confidence as well as an awareness of the character you’ve painted for them to be able to accept it. Which leads to the timeless question of “Who cares?”
As is always the case with personal thinking, ultimately your opinion matters the most. Maturity isn’t in the same category as embarrassment—it is more than a figment of your imagination—but no one, save the closest people in your life, can genuinely make an accurate assessment of your character.
That doesn’t mean you should completely disregard others’ impressions of you—otherwise we can become self-centred, trompy jerks—but make sure that your guideline is formed from a healthy self-awareness. You know who you are. You know what you believe. You know how hard you work. You know your strengths and weaknesses. As long as you are comfortable with your personal growth and maturity, that’s all that really matters.