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Old age and women

What is Maturity?
Wikipedia has the following definition for "maturity":

Maturity is a psychological term used to indicate how a person responds to the circumstances or environment in an appropriate manner. This response is generally learned rather than instinctive, and is not determined by one's age. Maturity also encompasses being aware of the correct time and place to behave and knowing when to act appropriately, according to the situation and the culture of the society one lives in

But there is a problem with this definition. The "correct" way to behave can be a stiff stereotype (there is one and only one "correct" way to behave) or a genuine, free response to a situation. So this definition could equally refer to "genuine" maturity or a kind of stuckness.

Looking down a list of jotted ideas (below) I was intrigued by how often there is an implied "but" in every worded definition of maturity. It seems to be a balancing act, even a knife-edge, when you apply words to it.  For example,

"Maturity is being able to say nothing [but not like a tongue-tied teenager.]"

But internally, wordlessly, the experience of maturity is rooted and robust. A mature person is real, more real in some ways than someone who is immature.

What is a mature person's not saying anything and how does it differ in quality from the shy teenager's? Perhaps the mature person has a choice to say something, but chooses not to.

Is a mature person, then, someone who is aware of and makes choices?

The concept of maturity itself can be used in a positive or negative sense. Although "don't be so immature" is derogatory, "gone to seed" is hardly complimentary either. Yet "gone to seed" is the ultimate aim of many plants: the point at which they have successfully matured and are ready to start the next generation, when they are often less fabulous to look at or eat, but more accomplished. Colloquially "gone to seed" describes the moment when a plant ceases to be so attractive to humans. Or, when a person has, in some sense, passed their sell-by date.

Here are some other ideas and reflections about maturity:

- Does travel help you mature?

- Writing a letter to a child, C S Lewis once wrote that although he was sixty, parts of him were still twelve. Should all of him have been sixty?

- Clive James (two Clives in two lines?!) wrote about some people having their souls handed to them on a plate (in contast to his own)

- Is maturity a threshold you reach, many thresholds? At what age do you "mature" and why? What do you need in order to mature well?

- Some kinds of immaturity are a good thing: like playfulness

- We live in a society when old people often no longer live with their younger relatives. How does this affect our ability to mature?

- Maturity is being able to use solitude

- Should education include work experience to round out a person's maturity?

- Maturity is being able to sustain both your self-respect and an intimate relationship with someone else

- Maturity is realising that the status quo was right all along

- David Schnarch, the psychotherapist, suggests that women mature before men but men catch up later

- Maturity is genuinely being able to change your mind

- Maturity is being interested in everything and everyone, but with focus

- Maturity is slow and heavy

- What happens when kids grow up (too) fast? How does that affect their maturity? Do we mature best like a fine wine-- given lots of time and solitude-- or is early, highly-socialised maturity a good thing? Is it a good thing that kids are socialised early by our education system? Does it make them more socially mature as adults?

- Maturity: knowing how to make extremely good use of your own faculties. Knowing yourself well. Being willing to learn and change.

- Maturity: having genuine pride in yourself, but being able to put your ego or dignity on one side
(example: getting down on the floor to play with a child in public)

- Maturity: being able to say nothing

- Maturity is boring

- Maturity: the seasoning of formal education with deep learning and true engagement. (It has nothing to do with your first-class degree from Oxford or MIT-- or does it?)

- Maturity: taking full responsibility for yourself. Dropping the "blame game"

- Maturity means the end of fun

- True maturity is a kind of playfulness

- Maturity: losing the need to hurt someone, even when they press your buttons (are countries mature or immature?)

- Maturity: not caring what anyone thinks

- Maturity is the only intelligence that matters

- Maturity is compassion for others. It's a million miles from being a "rescuer"

- "Mature" is just a polite way to say someone's old

- Becoming a parent makes you mature FAST!

- Maturity is letting your own children grow up

- Maturity is using every minute of your time well

- Maturity means going to seed

- Maturity is that quality in you that makes other people feel good about themselves when they're with you

- Maturity is acceptance of the way things are, with joy

- Maturity is decisive but not reactive

- Maturity is stuck in its ways

- Slow maturation is one of the things that makes human beings special


Rather a long list...   I rather like the following, which I found on a friend's blog:

“Surely the process of becoming an adult is one of figuring out which of one’s difficulties should be sanded down in the interests of being a functioning member of the community, and which can be left as distinguishing and endearing eccentricities.”

In response to Fiona St Clair
My 1 cents worth: At least one aspect of maturity essentially consists of two things-
  First, a sense of who you are, your values, your priorities, your ethics, and the courage to express this inner integrity in your relations with others and how you carry yourself in the world.

  Second, a compassionate, insightful awareness of the reality and value of others and to express this as respect in your dealings with them.

  And perhaps, a third point, bringing these two together - the ability to "be oneself" and to accommodate and relate to others equally at the same time. 
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Latest Post: December 14, 2011 at 4:20 AM
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