A Greenland shark matures after a mere 150-years on this Earth. The maturation of a rat arrives after a long six weeks. With humans, it’s complicated. I’ve met hauntingly mature children and frustratingly childlike middle-aged men.
Perhaps we all need a reminder of bad conduct to rise above. By acting mature, and surrounding ourselves with composed people, we’ll live with more stability and make better decisions. Our lives will improve. Watch out for these characteristics, in others, and yourself.
The beauty of a relative sameness
I was an immature 20-something man. I eventually did an apology tour for some of my antics. I wasn’t the best boyfriend. But the regret of my childish behavior was ample fuel for change.
Years later, the tables turned. More bluntly, I’m never dating a younger woman again. Youth brings this beauty, shine, and energy. It’s enchanting. It’s easy to fall for. But when it comes to the demands of a relationship, the grit, and grind of navigating everyday life? I was pulling my hair out. The biggest issue was the constant complaining. The seatbelt was too tight. The fridge needed better food. The menu was never quite good enough. Every minor inconvenience was worthy of listing as a grievance.
There’s this sticky, corrosive energy to negativity. It drags you down. I can feel the fatigue in my body. Even worse, negativity is proven to be contagious. Constant complaining is a neon blinking sign of an immature person. I’ve grown to love befriending mature people. It feels easy and tranquil. There’s no needless turmoil and tension.
A voice for one set of ears
Franz Kafka wrote, “Most men are not wicked. Men become bad and guilty because they speak and act without foreseeing the results of their words and their deeds. They are sleepwalkers, not evildoers.”
This speaks to an immutable sign of a child masquerading as an adult. Just as a toddler innocently comments about how fat someone is, the immature man litters his remarks with no thought of a world containing feelings besides his own. There is callous impulsiveness that matches that of a kid snatching candy from a Halloween bowl.
There is profound virtue in choosing restraint in the face of an easy chance to hurt someone’s feelings. A good and kind person speaks difficult truths with a subtle, pulsing love. They know what should remain unspoken. They see a world containing many people, all with differing needs and vulnerabilities. This is beauty. This is someone cementing themself as a person who belongs in your life.
Can you actually talk to this person?
Don’t become a writer if you aren’t good with constructive criticism. This is a field where open and candid feedback opens pathways to better performance. Those who write in silos tend to stagnate.
Some people saunter through life as a walking powder-keg, incapable of receiving any type of critique, no matter how well-intended. My one friend became a former friend for this very reason. You couldn’t quietly tell him his fly was unzipped without him taking it personally.
Without getting too political, it’s hard not to recall our former president and how he reacted to any criticism. Everything immediately devolved into Twitter insults and name-calling. Sure, some of it was for show. But it wasn’t the best example of maturity from a 70-something adult.
It’s unfortunate too. Your ability to utilize criticism is one of the most effective performance-enhancing skills you can embrace. My strongest reactions to criticisms were when there was some element of truth to them and I didn’t like what I saw.
I’ve found that the trick is to step outside of yourself. Take a third-person view. Have a detached curiosity about what you are hearing. It will help pull you out of the kiddie pool and be a better person.
It’s just two simple words
For the longest time, I couldn’t understand why so many people couldn’t apologize. I’ve seen friends and girlfriends do terrible things where an apology was clearly warranted. They damaged someone else’s property. They lashed out and said something wickedly mean.
Yet when it came time to say, “I’m sorry”, their lips quivered and their body shook. They resorted to watering down their apology with modifiers (“I’m sorry but if you’d listened it wouldn’t have happened”).
One girlfriend hurt a family member’s feelings and finally realized she needed to apologize. She wrote an email and I wish I’d never read it. It was the most backhanded apology I’ve ever seen in my life. It made things worse. Their relationship was never the same.
An inability to apologize is a sign of a number of things but namely, it’s a sign of someone who needs to grow up and let go of their ego. To them, saying sorry means displaying weakness rather than doing the right thing. It exemplifies their focus on themselves rather than a consideration for others. There is nothing on this list that makes me crazier than non-apologizers.
Most people don’t reach full brain maturity until their mid-20s. And our emotional well-being tends to improve with age. But it won’t if you surround yourself with childlike adults. Watch out for these four signs.
Recap for your memory
- They are a revolving list of complaints. They sound like they always need a nap.
- They speak with no consideration for other people, or their feelings. They seize any opportunity to blunt someone over the head with the “hard truth”.
- They can’t take criticism of any type without blowing up or getting defensive. Everything is a reaction.
- Apologies are rare and when they arrive it is done kicking and screaming. Any apology that includes a “but” isn’t a true apology.
This article first appeared on Medium.