Maturity vs. Immaturity

I’ve been contemplating this subject for a long time. I’m not sure if the concept of maturity is entirely subjective or not. I don’t think there are any universal standards for maturity, especially since every culture has its own view of what maturity is. But anyway…

First of all, I think that once we escape high school (or possibly even earlier), we realize that age is no measure of maturity. There are plenty of 40- and 50-year-olds who still act like children. There are many teens and children who act wiser than their years.

But is maturity something that is gained over time? Something learned? Is it a measure of intelligence? Or are some people just born with the capacity to gain maturity?

I think part of maturity is learning from your mistakes and accepting criticism well. Being petty and defensive are signs of immaturity. If someone rushes through life without stopping to consider the past and learn from it, that person may be immature, based on their unwillingness to learn. Some constantly make the same mistakes over and over again, thinking that something different will happen.

As Einstein said (one of my favorite quotes):

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Maybe “insanity” should be changed to “immaturity.” Learning from others’ mistakes is just as important as learning from your own. If you see someone making a mistake and destroying their life because of it, don’t follow them! It seems like common sense, but when that someone is a person you look up to, you may find yourself following in that person’s footsteps.

Becoming a parent does not automatically make someone mature. I can’t stand shows that glorify teenage parenthood, such as Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant. I hope that teens who watch these shows realize the mistakes these “reality stars” are making and do not repeat those mistakes. But some teens may believe that, because of these shows, teen pregnancy is acceptable and having a child will make them more mature or more of an adult – or even make them “glamorous” in some perverse way. Seriously – who wants to live their life under the eye of a camera?

Graduating from college does not automatically make someone mature. There is still so much to learn, even after formal schooling is over. That’s one of the best things about life; you really do learn something new every day… that is, if you choose to learn. Walking around in ignorance and refusing to learn from daily life is a type of immaturity.

There are so many parents out there who say something to the effect of, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Teens may call their parents hypocrites for saying this, but in truth, we are all hypocrites. We have made mistakes, we have learned from them, and we want to keep others from making those same mistakes, so we tell others not to do what we have done. I think being hypocritical is part of human nature. Of course, there are people who act hypocritical purposely to confuse others and lead them astray.

Religion does not automatically make someone mature. By its very nature, religions are full of hypocrites. Spirituality aims to make us forsake our human nature, which is incredibly difficult. Even the most religious people fall back into their human nature at times; they are often labeled hypocrites because they tell others to “do as I say, not as I do.”

Above all, I think maturity is being open-minded and not shutting down others’ arguments. Listen to what that person is saying, even if it’s not in accord with your own beliefs. Being open to different perspectives is crucial. Accepting that others are different from you is crucial. Sometimes it feels good to realize that you can’t change a person – it can be exhausting trying to change someone who won’t change. They are that way for a reason; instead of trying to change them, learn from them!

OK, this blog has gone on long enough (and I could go on even longer). Feel free to share your thoughts! ๐Ÿ™‚

15 thoughts on “Maturity vs. Immaturity

  1. I think being ‘glamorous’ is immature. Wearing tons of make-up and having a skirt so high that you might as well not wear one is being immature. Once, my friend told me that she doesn’t feel confident around anyone without make-up. I found that really sad and I told her that people don’t like you for the amount of make-up you wear, they like the true and natural you. I like your post ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. I’ve noticed that immaturity is the charge that an older person often makes against a younger one when the younger person has asked a question or made a point that the older one can’t answer. I think that your idea about learning from mistakes is a good measure of actual maturity.

    I do have to argue with your idea of spirituality, though. I don’t think that religion or spirituality tries to make us forsake our human nature. As a humanist, regardless of what other labels I’m operating under, I see our spiritual activity as enhancing who we are.

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    • I believe spirituality enhances the spiritual side of who we are, but whether that spiritual enhancement actually enhances the human side of us as well depends on how much we are invested in our spiritual growth. I hope that made sense.

      And I do agree with your first point; sometimes older people don’t really understand where the younger person is coming from… I guess it’s the age gap. Labeling the younger ones as “immature” seems to be a bit of a cop-out.

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  3. Some people see maturity as stepping into assigned roles and following society’s expectations, and immaturity as acting “irresponsibly.”

    Some people see maturity as “settling down” and immaturity as “sowing our wild oats.”

    Some people see maturity as “putting others first” and immaturity as “doing what we want to do.”

    I don’t think that following prescribed rules, settling down, or putting others first makes us “mature” ~ it just makes us PREDICTABLE which is what those in the control business want us to be.

    Maturity to me means being true to ourselves, and being the best we can be . . . even if no one else notices or approves of our actions.

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    • That is quite true. Societal expectations are notorious for stamping out any differences or creativity… reminds me of a book I read recently – Dumbing us Down by John Taylor Gatto. A mature person is able to see past the conventions of society and follow his or her own heart.

      Thanks, Nancy!

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    • Sounds like an interesting read. Conformity is definitely paraded around as something to aspire to . . . rather than run away from. ๐Ÿ˜€

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  4. Some very intelligent and successful people are very immature. In fact many of the self-help books that I’ve read seem to have been written by really immature people. I don’ think maturity is about the way you physically present yourself. I think it’s about interpreting the world with experienced eyes and mind. I think it’s about handling relationships and situations with ease. I am very very immature in a lot of ways, but in others I’m very wise and mature…but I’m fine with that.
    Nice post.

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    • You speak the truth. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be immature and it’s difficult to put a concrete definition on what immaturity is. And I’m definitely immature in some ways – sometimes who you are is based on a good mix of maturity and immaturity. There is a time for everything. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. I love this post Maggie! I think the best way to be is mature in mind and young at heart… I’m sure that’s a quote from someone but cannot remember who. It’s very sound advice though.

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  6. maggie im so stressed about my life im only 16 yrs old but have a lot to deal with i sometimes smile and laugh to cover up my pain , i think im about to do something very serious than what i have done before im about to divorce my dad and step mother do you think its right

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    • I can’t say for sure whether it’s right or not. I don’t know the details of your situation. I would say that if you’re really that bad off, and you have a good place to go, then yes, you should remove yourself from the situation.

      Good luck, my dear. You’re in my thoughts. Email if you need anything.

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  7. I definitely think that maturity involves understanding that oneself is not the center of the universe. I had an ex girlfriend that – in retrospect – had the emotional maturity of about a seven year old. When one is dealing with someone like that, it is as if they expect you to put everything aside for them – as if your wants and needs do not matter – only theirs. That to me is the hallmark of immaturity. If I go out of my way for someone I would expect that to be reciprocated – especially in the context of a relationship (but not exclusively there). If a person only takes and takes and takes, and then gets angry when the person giving starts to stand up for themself and assert his or her own needs – that is an immature person, in my opinion.

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    • I had an ex-boyfriend like that. And yes, putting others above yourself does signify maturity – human nature is all about “me, me, me” and it truly takes wisdom to realize that others should come first. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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