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Maturity - A Wednesday Afternoon Thinkpost

Yes, thinkposts happen any time of the day, not just Sunday Nights anymore. That's because thinking shouldn't be constricted to just that one time anymore. We need to keep thinking around the clock, all the time now. We are desperate creatures in a desperate situation and we need to use our wits, every step of the way, or else.

The thanks for the inspiration belong to oceandream9 and nysidra, who each recently talked about topics related to the theme of "Maturity."

Marina talked about the issues of "age of consent" laws, and that got me to thinking that measuring whether someone is "mature" really shouldn't be done strictly by what their age is. Just as sure as drinking age isn't an appropriate way of telling who is capable of handling themselves with alcohol, there are people who haven't reached "maturity" by 18 or even 21! Likewise, there are people who are capable of handling a beer or having a family at 16. So, it's really a shorthand to claim that any particular age is THE moment when you can have your first legal hooch, or cooch.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't have such laws, but rather, they aren't accurate and if we wanted to have a better functioning society, these issues would be handled in a more personalized method: An exam where you can prove you know enough to be able to handle yourself in a bar or a marriage! Let's institute a test to see who is ready! To paraphrase my response to Marina, with this test in place, some people might never get married, but maybe that's an even bigger incentive to do this!

Bianca raised some different points. She mentioned people who constantly are bored, tired, and seem to do nothing but complain about it. I think this relates to maturity as well, because at some point, when you start to understand more about life, yourself and what you do to help create the life you're living, this way of thinking begins to alter.

Everyone has some say in their experience of life. Everyone has an effect in what happens to them to at least *some* degree. And the issue goes to an ancient Chinese proverb which I constantly mention: You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can always control your reaction to it. People forget that it's not the events in life that make their life what it is, it's how you respond to the situations that you face that shapes and moulds the character and makes life seem like what it is. It's been constantly stated that chemically, the brain sees "fear" and "excitement" as the same thing. Clearly, the template you put on the situation has an effect on your experience of it.

If you're bored, maybe doing something different (or differently) is the answer. If you're too busy with other things to get out of your rut, maybe you should arrange a schedule to fix that. If you have an answer for every single reason why you can't change, maybe you enjoy complaining, and you'd be out of your comfort zone to actually find the life you truly want.

This isn't singling anyone out, since lots of people do this, at least some of the time. But I have to think that there is something to being able to deal with life on that "adult" level. It's not easy to do, and it's especially difficult to learn if you didn't get it in the teen years. It's a personality thing. Some people need some extra help. There's no dishonor in that. If everyone's life experiences were the same, then there wouldn't be so much variety in the world. But it takes a certain level of maturity to take a step back and see the situation for what it is, and come up with a creative solution to respond to it.

But, really, neither one of these situations will be resolved, and certainly not by words. Designing a test for maturity? Next to impossible. I can already hear the comments: "I know maturity when I see it." Mm. We're stuck with the age measure, for sure. It would take too much paperwork to try to determine who was "mature," and there would be all of the whining: "He's getting to drink and he's YOUNGER than me! Why can't I? Why? Why? WHY??"

Perhaps, though, we can make some inroads with the other situation. I think when complaining becomes a part of character, it's extremely tough to give up without a struggle. That means a need to want to change on the part of the person, and getting the help needed to do so. But, in a country where people can't even get on a proper health plan, what realistic hope is there?

It's like in the episode of "Six Feet Under," that aired last week. David and Keith have become foster parents of Durrell and Anthony, two troubled kids who have been in and out of institutionalized care for most of their lives. Durrell is a handful and acts up and does whatever he wants at every chance he gets. Anthony candidly admits to Keith that this is because Durrell wants to have "fun" before they are "given back." Durrell doesn't see that the reason they are given back is because he acts that way, and if he changed his view, maybe he would be allowed to stay. But it takes a mature mind to fully grasp that concept. So, it was David and Keith who altered their attitudes so that Durrell would have the space to change. Ok, it is a TV script, so it worked a lot faster than it probably would in real life, but you get the idea!

I guess this maturity issue isn't the biggest problem we're dealing with currently. But actually, maybe it is? I think the more mature people we are, the better our chances. We need maturity now. No time to wallow in the mire. Somebody has to get up and do it. It might as well be us. Sometimes focusing outward is the best way to center yourself. We can't use kindergarten tactics to accomplish our goals. Time to grow up.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 27th, 2005 05:36 pm (UTC)
this is so full of great topics and insights D, thank you as always.

( I am thinking of having my 15 year old read it if it's ok with you)
Jul. 27th, 2005 06:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Miss V. I'd be honored.
Jul. 27th, 2005 05:38 pm (UTC)
There was a statement to similar effect in a recent Wired News article on the whole GTA brohaha:

"The ESRB has changed the game's rating from M (not appropriate for under 17) to AO (adults only - not for sale to those under 18), since 18 is the year at which one magically becomes less susceptible to harm from animated pixel sex."

(i'm paraphrasing a little - but not nearly as much as some might think)
Jul. 27th, 2005 06:02 pm (UTC)
There needs to be some sort of line to determine what is "legal," but it is sort of arbitrary and bizarre.

Haha. Yes. I think one of the late night comics Kimmel maybe, was stating how shocked all the parents were that they bought this game full of deadly violence for their kids, only to find out it has a couple of scenes of sex in it!
Jul. 27th, 2005 05:49 pm (UTC)
I know that a lot of my problems are rooted in a lot of immaturity still and it's one thing to say: "Okay I need to grow up." But that doesn't happen right away either. Sometimes it takes experiences for us to grow up, just reading a post like this won't all of a sudden make me more mature. But I do have to say your one line:
"She mentioned people who constantly are bored, tired, and seem to do nothing but complain about it. I think this relates to maturity as well, because at some point, when you start to understand more about life, yourself and what you do to help create the life you're living, this way of thinking begins to alter."
This was very on point.

I'm 21 years now and I've been drinking regularly at bars since I was about sixteen (the advantages of being a cute girl I guess) and in the end the 21 law isn't so bad because at least you know even if some people are mature enough when they're younger, most people will be a lot maturer by the time they're 21! It's slightly foolproof. Plus I don't think anyone who goes to high school should legally be able to drink.
Jul. 27th, 2005 06:15 pm (UTC)
This is the problem. Nothing happens "right away." It takes a step forward. And then another. And then probably one step back. But you're trying to keep moving ahead.

There's no harm in being immature. It's through experience that we learn, and it's through living that we get the opportunity to try things. The harm comes from not wanting to change and grow. When the things you constantly do don't bring you what you need and want, it's time to change. That's scary, but a mature person knows that it must be done.

The 21 drinking age is ok. I thought the 18 year old drinking age was ok, but in NYC, kids don't drive that much, where in nearly any other place, that would be a big issue.

In Europe, there is no specific age for alcohol, and (coincidentally?) there are fewer cases of drunk driving reported. But the Europeans have a very different relationship with alcohol than USA residents do. And part of it is the drinking age, I'm sure! Once you can legally do it, you want to drink the bar, because you waited so long.

But this also has to do with how we market alcohol here. The beer commercials during sporting events, and the style of advertising used for the hard liquors in magazines and TV ads. The need to sell products supercedes the need for knowing the consequences of using the products. So, it's not just the people, it's the companies that are partially to blame.
Jul. 27th, 2005 09:27 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes, but who gets to create the tests. It's all so terribly subjective. Some hardcore christian conservative would create a very different test than a pot-smoking wiccan, for example. :)
Jul. 28th, 2005 03:19 am (UTC)
Yes. And that's just one of the reasons why this concept could never work. Just determining who would sit on the committee to decide the level of "maturity" used would take the level of a supreme court justice selection, and probably create a longer debate!
Jul. 28th, 2005 02:51 am (UTC)
The problem is, maturity isn't measured along a single-dimension - you can be very "mature" in some ways, and completely immature in others.

For instance, some people would say maturity (or part of it) is your ability to be successful at life - to hold down a job, pay your bills, whatever. Other people would say that maturity is instead (or also) shown by the way you deal with conflict. Or it can be used to refer to the type of humor you like. I mean... maturity is a complex topic in itself, and part of the reason you could never have a "maturity" test is because there are too many dimensions to just "test" it like that. It's not an on-off, scale from 1-100, easily-measurable characteristic. Not only that, but the same person can sometimes act maturely in one situation, and then act completely immaturely in a similar situation because they're tired, or because it brings up painful memories, or just because sometimes people are inconsistent.

I think there are some definite "trends" for maturity - some actions or responses would be defined by almost everyone as more mature than others - but like most things, a lot of it is perception and personal beliefs.
Jul. 28th, 2005 03:31 am (UTC)
Well, that's the problem we have now! The level of "maturity" that is determined by "age" suggests that people "know" what to do in any given situation based on the amount of time they've been on the planet.

Clearly, that measurement isn't the most accurate way of dealing with specific issues here, otherwise there would never be a drunk driving accident.

And yes, people have different levels of maturity, depending on varying factors.

In these cases, though, knowledge might be equal to maturity, in which case, there could at least be a "level of understanding" where one could be tested in knowing what is "appropriate" and "right" (which of course would be the sticking point, even in this example).

It was all a pipe dream anyhow!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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