Friday, April 19, 2013

Maturity makes age just a number

By Anna Sieber, Columnist

There is this expectation people have that, upon reaching a certain age, one should suddenly be mature. It is like, “hey, you are 18 now. That means you should be able to fill out paperwork and handle yourself in adult situations.”
   
No.

There are so many people that defy this expectation. There are so many 20-year-olds who act more like they are 5.
   
It scares me that people my age are out there having children. I know I do not have the emotional or financial stability — or maturity, for that matter — to handle a child, to have another’s life in my puerile hands.
   
In anthropology last week, Assistant Professor Nosaka asked the class if anyone felt like they would call themselves an adult. A few hands tentatively rose. She asked how old someone should be to have a child and how old to be considered an adult — is there an age?
   
Turning 18 does not mystically make someone an adult.
   
Based on the experiences one has and the circumstances that life puts them in, a person can be an adult at age 13 or not become an adult until 45.
   
Heck, a person may never truly grow up if they do not have to or staunchly refuse to.
   
Having maturity is about being able to put on some big kid pants and act like you have some handle on yourself.
   
Age is not a marker for maturity. Attitude and actions are better indicators.
   
I do not think I am particularly mature, though I know I can handle myself in polite society.
   
I am fine being immature, because I know I am responsible and can pretend to be a grown up when the time calls for being a grown up.
   
I mean, I can fill out paperwork and schedule my own appointments at the dentist.
   
I am fine making a preposterously dirty joke — the kind that a 13-year-old boy might make — because I know not to make that sort of joke during a job interview.
   
However, the fact is that by a certain age a person should really be able to act like an adult, at least to a certain extent.
   
It seems like once people leave home — and once people reach voting age, they should really be out of their parents’ house, or at least close to being out — they should be able to act like adults.
   
Adulthood, and  even maturity, is about being able to problem solve — for oneself.
   
That may mean asking for help from Mum or Dad, but it also means having the strength of character to know when to use your free phone call.
   
It means being okay with failure, but not letting that be a deterrent.
   
It means filling out paperwork.
   
It means growing up, getting a job and being self-supporting.
   
Maturity means pulling up the big kid pants and being in charge of one’s own life.