On Being Mature

An Essay On The Nature Of Maturity

Table Of Contents

Our Imprisonment to Behaviour

What Is Meant by Mature

Psychological Maturity for Chaos

The Path to Maturity


Life can be many things. But the thing which it be depends on the approach we take towards it. A confident person will take more risks and be more domineering over life, whereas the passive person will be more tranquil and consuming of life. There are also various combinations found in between. But what of a life wherein which we adopt a mature attitude towards being, what would that look like?

Our Imprisonment to Behaviour

Like a rock tumbling down a steep hillside, we have at our whim a plethora of ways in which we are able to behave; divert from the current path and head down another, we can. But much like the rock tumbling down the hill, we must, irrespective of our wishes, behave. No human is free from motion; the sound of heavy footsteps in a hallway growing ever so soft in their departure can aptly characterize the continuous progression which we mortals face; forced to walk, we start quick-footed, boisterous, & loud, but we end sluggish, sickly, & quiet; upon which we whimper into an everlasting nothing. From nothing we came, and to nothing we return.

Now, since we are forcefully placed into a form of being wherein which we must behave in some way or other, then it might very well be worth reflecting on how one ought to behave while living. Put more precisely, the question of whether one should be mature in their behaviour or immature is but one of the possible reflections to be entertained in this life, and it is that reflection which we shall herein consider.

But what is meant by mature can be rather rich; numerous meanings can be placed under the arms of such a term, all of which differ ever so slightly. Thus, a clarification is of necessity here.

What Is Meant by Mature

The term, “mature,” taken in its most literal sense, denotes a physiological idea; that there is some maximal state of development within the confines of the human body. When a child grows into an adult, said child has become mature. And in some sense, they live a life wherein which they are mature. However, I have in mind a much different sense of this rich, meaningful term.

Mature can be applied, in a non-literal sense, to characterize one’s decisions in life; but in doing so, it loses some of those constituent meanings previously developed; in particular, that there is some maximal stage of development is precisely one of the meanings which must be done away with, at least for this second sense of the term “mature”.

When the idea of mature is applied to our decisions in life, it reflects how much experience and insight one conveys in their choices. An athlete, even when physiologically mature, will make poor decisions when in their novice days, for their abilities that regard performance have not matured or blossomed into the hidden masterpieces which dexterity-based tasks so very well are; they cannot think nearly as well as a matured and experienced player can, to put it simply. And so the second sense of mature pertains to decisions in some domain of skill or ability, but also life more generally. Whether it be how to act under a high-pressure situation with nothing more than a glimpse at the world, producing an intuition of unfathomable speed, or to know more generally how the non-linear dynamics of everyday life choices will result, both reflect maturity of the second sort.

Thus, being readily available to the naked eye, we can see that such a meaning as this secondary meaning of mature is less so about the idea of a maximal state of being, the literal view of mature, and more so about the quality of action or insightfulness of choice. Said otherwise, when a student teaches the master, the student, though younger in age, may nevertheless display those fundamental qualities of maturity which are most often associated with failure, frustration, and sweat. Something that is highly developed and took time to construct.

However, I do not mean by my use of the term mature either one of those senses, at least not entirely. The second sense of mature, I do indeed require; however, there is yet another sense to be explained. And this third sense, the sense I have fixated my intuitions upon, is in reference to psychological maturity, of which involves confidence, stability, and commitment. But let me first, before walking into the depths of my mind to pluck from the garden of knowledge that meaning which corresponds to psychological maturity, so that I may put forth its Truth in palatable fashion, clarify how it is our previous two senses of mature can contribute to this soon to be presented third sense.

Psychological maturity depends on the second sense of the term mature insofar as it represents the ability for one to make decisions about emotionally rich topics, life altering decisions, and an ability to confront great challenge without overwhelming one’s self. A mature artist will see far more from a white wall than a person who, being plagued by traits like rigidity, stiffness, and literalness, have no experience. A mature artist will see infinite where others see finite. For in the depths of an artistic mind reside a plethora of top-down models, forged in the realm of imagination, and developed over a life-time, of which the artist can use to repaint their perceptions. And so, insofar as there is a skillfulness to life, to joy, and to creating experiences, we require the second sense of term mature.

But these difficulties of life, namely: relationships, transcendent goals, and over-coming challenge all have rooted within them other meanings, and it is here where the term psychological maturity adopts a third and separate sense; for all these different constituent meanings comprise the third sense.

For one to be emotionally mature, that is, to make decisions about emotionally rich topics, one must have confidence. But let us take into consideration the notion of romantic love, so that we may not only conceptually understand, but fundamentally feel within the realm of our conscious being, what I mean by confidence in this instance.

To fall in love with another person requires of us a great degree of vulnerability, to the point where it becomes rather dangerous for the sanctity of our minds. We have such a fear of falling into the depths of love that, unfortunately, some of us avoid the beauty which it can bestow on our lives, entirely; that euphoric feeling associated only with the opening up the iron gates which surround our hearts and letting into our glass house another being. But in favour of those skeptics of love, the fear or avoidance of love is entirely understandable; for the consequent of falling out of love is utterly devastating: the complete destruction of that part of us which is most fragile, shattered into a million fragments, to perhaps never be pieced back together. The dissolution of love can be so agonizing of an experience that, as said before, people fear or avoid romantic experiences altogether: for love is an unnecessary weakness which shall not be entertained.

And it should be made clear, the mere exposure to romantic behaviours is not the same as romance its self. There are plenty of instances wherein which two people will hug, kiss, or have sex; yet at the same time lack romance, for they have pursued them from a consciousness of shallow pleasure and impersonal lust. We are foolish to think of romance as a surface experience, characterized only by action; romance is more about the qualities of conscious experience. The person who we seek to form a unique romantic bond with, such that this bond can only be found between ourselves and the other, depends entirely on the psychological act of placing said person into a privilege seat within our consciousness. Much like a free-floating anxiety, there resides a feeling at the forefront of our consciousness, except the feeling is more aptly characterized as a yearning; we yearn to see their smile, we yearn to hear their voice, we yearn to touch their skin, we yearn to experience their scent, and we yearn to know their taste. We allow the other to become the brush which paints over our subjective experiences a sense of internal peace and euphoria, they complete us.

And it thus logically follows, two people who have never touched, kissed, or even hugged can be more romantic with one another than two people who hook-up inside of a night club. As consciousness is not bound by the laws of distance, nay, consciousness allows for us to connect irrespective of the highest of mountains, the deepest of seas, or the furthest of borders. But to connect requires of us a vulnerability, of which some have the unfortunate problem of not being able to overcome.

Though there is nevertheless a solution herein: namely, confidence. Put more descriptively, a soldier is of the utmost confidence when marching onto the battle field, for he or she has trained and prepared for whatever the will of the war so ever decides to bear upon their shoulders. The soldier has entered the war while likewise knowing just how dangerous it is. And in a much similar fashion, the romantic walks steadfast into the lands of love knowing in a rather intimate fashion the potential dangers of doing so. But the romantic also knows that one cannot begin to fall unless they are confident in their ability to handle themselves on the way down. And so, confidence, undoubtedly so, is a vital aspect to psychological maturity; for skilled, insightful, and wise decisions cannot happen if the decision maker lacks confidence.

How easy life would be, however, if life required of us nothing more than confidence. We could solve all our problems by mere affirmation; a lion would be atop the food chain, and the foolishly confident, that is, those who have confidence which far exceeds their ability, all while being entirely unaware of the discrepancy between their ability and confidence, would be the most successful individuals in those myriad domains of human societies. But such is most definitely not the case, as confident fools are burned in proportion to their foolishness in human life. So, there is more to the picture than just confidence.

Yet another aspect of psychological maturity, that is, some other quality of character is required: namely, stability. Since life calls upon us to make life altering decisions every so often, we require the ability to remain stable in our travels; much like the necessity of a boat to remain stable when hit by waves, on a moment-to-moment basis, so too must a person be capable of remaining right-side-up when the waters of life become rough, which they most certainly will when one makes a life-altering decision.

If we are unable to remain balanced when stormy waters shake our life in a rather violent fashion, then we fall into the depths of a never-ending sea of problems; a float at sea with nowhere to go, nor any land to rest upon, we drown in our troubles and succumb to the woes of life. Put otherwise, without stability, we will feel lost at sea, especially when the eye of the storm shows her wrath.

And in order to endure rough waters, we need to be committed to our doing so; for those who second guess themselves, that is, those who are uncertain about the course to which they have just embarked upon, will waver and fail almost immediately. Life requires of us immense levels of commitment, which is to say not only will the psychologically mature individual be able to maintain prolonged levels of engagement, despite any challenge to do so, but such an individual will also have the will of a brick wall: unwavering in composure, despite whatever object so chooses to impact with it. Without commitment, we have but a mixture of beliefs that cannot act.

Thusly so, we now have what is meant by mature, at least in my use of the word; it embodies a psychological disposition towards the world. Psychological maturity is to be confident in one’s ability to open-up to the world around them, to be stable in the roughest of waters, or to commit and maintain a course wherein which one pursues a transcendent goal, all while maintaining composure.

In all respects and domains of one’s life, such a disposition is likewise applicable. And since we must, necessarily so, adopt some disposition which accompanies our imprisonment of forced behaviour, I believe one ought to adopt the disposition of psychological maturity.

Psychological Maturity for Chaos

The world beyond our stranded, solipsistic mind is notoriously unpredictable, and that bothers us. We humans are pattern finders and avoiders of chaos; we not only seek but also yearn for that vital element which makes scientific theories the champions of knowledge which they most evidently are: namely, predictability. Where ever stability ruminates, comfort follows. Such is the nature of a human, much how rigidity is the nature of a tree. But there are nevertheless exceptions to such a steadfast rule; that is, much how some trees enjoy swaying in the wind, so too do some people enjoy swaying in the dynamics of life. And these dynamics of life are beyond our solipsism, in that unpredictable realm of uncertainty and unpredictability.

Why is it so, however, that there are individuals who not only delight in chaos but also grow bored without it? The answer is rather simple. The realm of unpredictability has, hidden behind the noise, its own facets of beauty. All of such remains hidden from those who avoid the realm in which it resides, forever undiscovered by the linear mind. Unlike the repetition of squares inside a box, the world of chaos is nothing short of a squared-triangle, at least in its’ most extreme manifestations. But therein resides a beauty of its own right.

As a thousand rubber balls bounce off the walls in a rather rapid and unpredictable fashion, one becomes hypnotized by the sheer uncertainty of it all. It is entrancing simply because we cannot comprehend, at all, what is taking place before our eyes. This feeling of awe and dumbfoundery is similar to the feeling which one receives while viewing the sheer complexity of a midnight sky; we become overwhelmed by complexity, to the point of shock. And this level of complexity is, very much so, similar to the level of complexity found in those late-night reflections about one’s life; if and only if, however, one has chosen to live a life of constant change. Put otherwise, a specialist can look back upon their life and see precisely the same series of repetitions, the constancy of squares inside a box; but in contradistinction, the polymath can look back upon their life and see no pattern whatsoever. Evidently so, the specialist looks back and witnesses a pattern of black-and-white lines on the canvas of their life, but the polymath looks back and perceives what appears to be a splash which was created by someone arbitrarily throwing buckets of paint: a life of order versus a life of chaos.

And of course, we are speaking in the most extreme opposites of non-linear and linear qualities, so that we may derive prime examples of that which is not only beautiful but also magnificent about chaos. For the essence of a thing never stands out more than when it is placed next to its opposing essence; sunset and sunrise are of more similarity than mid-day and nightfall. Put otherwise, it is by virtue of their essence, that is, what makes a midnight a midnight, that we are able to compare and contrast the two. And thus, it is by virtue of the differences between linear and non-linear qualities, as presented in their ideal forms, like the repetitious movement of a grandfather clock versus the non-repetitious movement of a flag in a wind storm, that we can comprehend either.

But what of chaos do we want? Why have passers-by throw buckets of paint, in the utmost arbitrary fashion, upon the canvas of our life? It would appear to most, I believe, that chaos is deeply undesirable. People would much rather have the repetitious qualities of a grandfather clock be the central metaphor for their life rather than a cow stuck inside a tornado funnel. And such is understandable, as the uncertainty which the world can hold will not only overwhelm most but will also swallow them whole. Though there are nevertheless some that continue to both seek and enjoy chaos; some who prefer to fly with the cow rather than to swing with the clock.

Preference alone, however, is insufficient for chaos; said otherwise, one cannot handle the realm of unpredictability armed with nothing more than their preferences. A realm of such exuberant and spry activity demands preparation before embarked upon; for any voyage into uncertainty will require an ability to both protect ourselves when caught off-guard and leap into action when an opportunity so presents itself. Those travelers into uncertainty must bring, much like a warrior who is prepared for battle, a sword and a shield, of which they are able to wield with dexterity: a unison between being shielded and leaping into opportunity.

In our modern life, the chaos and randomness which we so speak of is a life of instability or constant change. When a man of business has failed to successfully construct his empire, he has but a few options. He can stay the course and sail off the edge of the earth, or he can cast his net in rough waters, all while taking on the risk of sinking his ship entirely. The business man must drop his shield and lunge forth with everything he has, maintaining the firmest of grasps on his hilt. Such is the nature of instability in modern life, at least in one respect. And when a man, being well equipped and well skilled, grows weary of one field of battle, he can move onto another with ease. Or if his commander so dictates he switch positions, he will adapt far more readily than those who are not well trained in the ways of opportunity taking or bracing up-against the woes of life.

It might now be apparent as to what we are speaking of when we speak of a voyage into the realm of chaos and uncertainty; that is, we are speaking about the application of psychological maturity. For only those who have such a maturity can handle the realm of chaos.

When we take an opportunity in the world, we become open and vulnerable to its whim; the man who journeys into the wilderness gives-up ever more control than those who remain inside their homes, for he is subjected more forcefully to the elements of mother nature. No house can protect him from the hails which fall from the heavens, no technology can aid him in the regulation of his body warmth, nor is there any shower wherein which he can cleanse his body. He, more than before, is at the mercy of nature’s whim. Thus, in his stride towards nature, psychological maturity is a necessity; only because one must be confident in their ability to make vulnerable themselves to forces outside of one’s self.

Indeed, many of those traits found in the being of a psychologically mature individual cannot be ignored or neglected if one is to pursue chaos. If a life wherein which we explore the unexplored is what be our desire, then a character that reflects those traits of psychological maturity are most certainly in need; only because the safe keeping of our spirits depends on its merits: confidence, stability, and commitment.

The Path to Maturity

The path to psychological maturity is rather simple, and thus need not be overthought. It involves nothing more than being comfortable with the consequences, being comfortable with vulnerability, and being comfortable with uncertainty.

Whenever we make a choice which forces onto us negative consequences, we shall not complain or wish otherwise; much rather, we shall accept, in its entirety, whatever consequent has been thrown our way. A psychologically mature person can encumber a burden brought on by life, themselves, or another; whereas the psychologically immature person seeks to dump the weight onto another, without that other person being even slightly aware of the circumstance. The mature individual carries their weight in a silent acceptance, only sharing with those who seek to help. But to be helped, first, requires vulnerability.

If to act mature in the world, then, we ought know by now, it requires vulnerability. To emerge from a place of safety and to enter, willingly so, a place of risk and danger, requires of us a great degree of confidence; that is, confidence in our ability to be vulnerable. And once we become comfortable with being vulnerable, then we will have no problem with being uncertain about our outcomes. Indeed, when one is okay with running the risk of injury, because they have consciously accepted said risk, then one can absolutely be comfortable with uncertainty; for the only reason which we have to fear uncertainty is injury. But the mature person has confidence in their ability to avoid injury, and thus, the mature person cares not about uncertainty.

Thus, in our imprisonment to behaviour, we will reach a fork in the road, wherein which we will be given two options. On the hand, we head down that road which offers us psychological maturity and prepares us for chaos; and, on the other hand, we head down that road which offers us insecurity and anxiety about the world, so that we then choose to remain avoidant or chaos. The reflection must happen, but the road taken is entirely up to the traveler.



Ideasinhat is a business development analyst and longtime reader of academic literature. He writes books and essays on science and philosophy, and posts them to this website. The essays, as with the books, cover topics from psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science to economics, politics, and law.

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