“Ma”, my daughter asked me one day, “how do you define maturity and how do you gain it?” I was stalled.
Sometimes we take certain things in life to be a constant. We have some definitions to go by, some strict ages to adhere to. Often we take it for granted that at such and such age a person is labelled as having achieved a particular level of development. And we put a name to it — Maturity.
A mature person is expected to behave, respond, and react in a particular way, to which the society gives a nod. It is a generalisation that does not take an individual as an independent entity. And when such an individual tends to behave differently, “immature” is the term designated.
But since one is not instructed externally as to what to do, how to behave, then there must be something that dictates internally. And then it struck me …. of course …. Experiences! Unless one has gone through or is thoroughly aware of instances, it is impossible to behave maturely. Such experiences might be good or bad, might come at any age, but are our steps towards a mature us.
So, going back to my daughter, I explained that maturity is so all encompassing that it has to be cultivated. We have to learn seeing around us. It is all about self-realisation, of what is good and what is bad.
Moving away from people who belittle others is maturity. Appreciation of other’s good work is maturity. You would have gained maturity when you feel happy that the other person has succeeded and is doing well. You are mature when you do not feel the necessity to put forward your achievement because you are insecure of the other’s success.
“What about when people argue wrongly”? she asked. “Maturity is,” I replied, “when you realise the wrong and develop enough self-respect to move away from such arguments.” When we through our honesty, become capable enough to bear the responsibility of our actions, mature we are.
Experiences are sometimes forced on us. Due to the deliberate wrongdoing of someone else, we face consequences that are thrust upon us. Maturity is not getting dragged down in their muck but striving harder and succeeding. Punishing the wrongdoer is unto God.
Delving on strong values
Maturity is, I went on, when you learn to delve on strong values. When you stand strong against immoral vices, never settling for the low. Applying a positive mindset to the environment around you, shows you are capable of being grateful — and that is a very high level of self resilience. Mature you are then.
I suddenly remembered something. When John Lennon was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said he wanted to be happy. Mature way beyond his years! When one realises that it is ultimately peace of mind that brings happiness, and people who love you are around you, you have matured.
Time and tide waits for no man. Sometimes we waste time and later we realise what we have wasted. Such experience teaches us the value of time and when we accept this teaching by being careful in using our seconds, we would have gained maturity.
Choices that life throws up on you can mature you faster than your peers. Example? Harry Potter! Believe me, real life has many Harry Potters around us, maybe not as wizards, but as normal beings like you and me.
Mature you are, when you do not find yourself to be insecure whilst adapting to changes. You welcome only such changes that are progressive because you have developed the realisation of what is right and what is wrong.
A calm demeanour is a sign of maturity. Through experiences, we learn to analyse before reacting. This enables taking correct steps and resulting in success. Objectivity, practicality rather than haste and emotions guide a mature person. Learning from hastily-taken decisions that are bound to go wrong, mature you from within.
Having put forward all these I asked, “Well? Have I answered your question satisfactorily?” “Yes”, said my daughter without batting an eyelid. “Now I know which way to go”. Smiling, we held each other close.
Mamata Bandyopadhyay is a homemaker based in Dubai.