Sunday, 25 March, 2018

Maturity: More than just a word

Growing up, one thing that we learn we have to achieve is maturity. Physical and emotional maturity are the absolute cornerstones of our paths to adulthood.

Story: Charlene Farrell | 10th September 2017, 06:38 Hrs

 As youngsters, we were often reminded of the fact that we were possibly behaving immaturely in some situation or another and we would have to think and re-evaluate our actions. It is because of the focus we had on our futures that some of us seem to have matured before others. Another shocking fact however, is that today, there are some youngsters who are way more mature than we as adults are. So, what is maturity? In psychology, maturity is ‘the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. This response is generally learned rather than instinctive.' When we look about ourselves, and the society around us, armed with this definition, maturity seems to be the last thing we have actually achieved.
In various contexts, maturity means a number of different things. Today, we shall focus on social maturity. For ions, we have lived in a society that prided itself on respect. There were times, not so long ago, when people, young and old, would seek out the village elder to help them with their problems and issues. In those good old days, experience would teach the individual practically everything they required to know. They made it a point to ensure that their wisdom was used for the good of man and the community at large. In the scenario of today, there has been a drastic shift in this precise system. Not because there is no opportunity, but because the margins of maturity are being blurred by illogical and egoistical notions. A mature adult, would not put themselves in a position of plunder but alas, all we experience is questionable.
Just this week, we heard the shocking news of noted journalist and activist, Gauri Lankesh, who was gunned down by unidentified assailants just outside her home. Nothing gives us the right to rob another individual of life. Sometimes, the truth is a mighty bitter pill to swallow. There are individuals out there who find it so difficult to hear anything contrary to their own closely held, sometimes illogical beliefs. Being able to accept and respect the thoughts of others is actually a very strong indicator of social and emotional maturity. When individuals believe that their word is law, they are actually robbing themselves of the opportunity to learn, for the world has much to teach us, if only we are open to accept. There are those individuals who have their ideas and ideals that they live by which is great for them. Convincing others to comply and adopt those beliefs is what is unfair.
Another major sign of maturity, is the ability to step back and laugh at yourself from time to time. Picking up on humour and seeing the fun side in this already over serious world helps one gain wider perspective. When we understand that everyone out there, in various walks of life have quirks that make them that much more special, we learn to nurture these quirks and allow something funny to actually improve the way we deal with others. September the 5th, as we all know is celebrated as teacher's day here. Our students took it upon themselves to show their love for us by staging a number of little programs. Of course, there had to be the bit that made fun of the teachers, and of course!!! How well they did it all. Being able to take things said in jest, in the spirit in which it was intended is a brilliant way of identifying how mature you are getting.
As we move on in life, one thing that stands out for us all is how we grow, mature and transform from what we were to what we could be. In the definition above it also states that maturity is generally learned rather than instinctive. Given this clear indicator, it is our duty to ensure that our future generations do not fall prey to the same old mistakes humanity has always made. We need to break out of the patterns of immaturity and model behaviour that will promote a brighter tomorrow. Understanding, acceptance, tolerance, love, these are all recipes we have at our disposal. Laugh at yourself a little more and open your mind to learning new things. Accepting that we aren't always right and giving others an opportunity to be heard are all ways for us to model for our future the best way to be. Give a voice an amplifier instead on snubbing it out completely. For maturity is more than a word and much more than just a developmental milestone. It is our path to a brighter future.
(Charlene Farrell is a counselling psychologist who works extensively with children and adolescents. She also counsels and works with individuals of all ages. Emotional well-being, to her, is of utmost importance to a fruitful existence)

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