Artwork by Evon Lim
I was caught off guard recently when a blogger friend asked me to explain what maturity means, and the qualities one should possess to be seen as a mature individual.
Frankly, it's not the question that got me stumped. It's who he posed that question to that almost made me tumble off my swivelling chair.
Look at me. I am the last person you would ask about maturity - seriously. I have irrational mood swings. I am freakingly emotional. I have that occasional but sudden passionate outbursts. I can be rash and impetuous. And I am a li'l girl trapped in an aging, decaying, horizontally expanding and vertically challenged body.
Ok ok. I shouldn't make excuses for myself. Since you've asked - my dear friend, so you shall receive. My concept of maturity may be warped, so please take what I blog here with a huge spoonful of salt.
Maturity - to me - is a mindset, which in turn will translate into observable behavioural patterns, and materializing in several forms such as responses, reactions, actions and speech. It is a state of the mind.
Simply put, maturity comes from within. It is often determined by oneself, but defined by others.
For example, I may feel that I'm mature because I have been through a lot in life and accumulated pain and experience along the way to emphatize and offer solid advice. I may be mature in handling work issues and politics. I'm less emotional when it comes to focusing on my goals and pursuing my dreams. My head sits tightly screwed on my shoulders when I'm depended upon to offer solutions to critical problems. I do not falter in the face of challenge and never give up when things do not go my way. My sensible and responsible nature reflect the mature me in the eyes of my friends.
On the flipside of the coin, I could also seem immature during the times I throw my tantrums, sulk or exhibit a ridiculously unreasonable behaviour, or any of the other actions I've listed in the earlier paragraphs.
Many could not resist equating age to maturity. After spending some three decades struggling in the real world, I discovered a number of older people I've encountered in the days of my life, work, school and social network are quite a distance from the nirvana state of maturity.
You cannot imagine the childish words that sprung forth from their mouths when they are angry or upset. You can hardly believe your eyes when they react mindlessly to protect their egos or pride. You cannot help laughing at the few who resort to juvenile acts for personal gains.
I don't have to go really far to prove my point. Look around you at the heads of state who fell out of favour with their people; men with graying hair in the likes of Osama bin Laden; historical figures in power who committed some of the world's gravest mistakes. Maturity seems to elude them too, isn't it?
I can't tell for sure what qualities you really need to be deem a mature person. In my humble and baseless opinion, I would think that he would be objective, calm, reasonable, and righteous (morally sound, that is). He would have the ability to differentiate right from wrong, truth from fiction, good from evil. He takes no sides, spreads no gossips, bears no grudges and exacts no vengeance.
I guess whenever I'm on the verge of veering towards the immaturity complex, I can always go back to that one reference who embodies "maturity" in every aspect of his behaviour and thought.
One really effective way is to infuse these 4 letters in each and every part of your life - WWJD.