Let’s just start out with saying this: in the first five words people use to describe me, “mature” does not appear. Maybe not in the top ten words either. In fact, if I was a dictionary, I would be incomplete.
So let’s discuss this at length and with a lot of whining.
Recently, I was in a store and a girl started crying. I’m not sure what the situation was, but I heard the woman I presumed was her mother say, “You’re not going to do this. It’s ridiculous for you to act this way. You are five years old already.”
I blurted out a “ha!” and she glared at me. I’m like, dude, she’s FIVE – let her freakin cry already.
I remember the second time I dyed my hair a completely unnatural, godforsaken color. This time it was reddish-pinkish-blondeish. Someone who looked and acted a lot like my mom said that I looked like a hooker and 14 years old. I didn’t want to think about the obvious there, so I said that’s what I was going for. And I might have stuck out my tongue when she turned around.
I was about 32. I actually was almost happy that someone (who incidentally looked 50 but was only a few years older than me) thought I looked like a teenager because I knew that would work in my favor. You know, when I’m 40… getting hit on by creepy 60 year olds… who stop being interested when they hear i’m 40… and that is not odd at all…
So looks notwithstanding, our behavior seems to be intrinsically tied to our age. Like when a little kid giggles at the most inappropriate things and we say, he’s a kid, we just have these ideas about age and actions and what’s acceptable and what’s not.
There are two things, as I was looking for songs to go along with this post, that seemed to be a theme – growing up has a lot to do with independence and with regret.
First song I thought of was Fall Out Boy (not that I’m a big fan, but the song is titled “Growing up”)
Lyrics? “I guess I’m my own better half… I guess I’m on my own…”
And then there’s Blink 182 “I’ve been here for too long /To face this on my own / Well I guess this is growing up.”
Independence seems to be the big one. What’s one insult that kinda trumps all others? You live in your mom’s basement. It implies several things. That you can’t be without your mom, you dont rate a normal bedroom on the 2nd floor, and that you do in fact live in your mom’s basement.
Being able to stand on your own two feet is like the pinnacle of maturity right? You have your own place, you pay your bills, you cook your own meals, and Wa La! you’re a grown up.
But I do all those things. Am I mature? 9 out of 10 doctors would say so.
Then there’s regret. If you’ve lived long enough to regret something, you’ve lived long enough. You should have at least one story of something you did that was ridiculously dumb. One person who wronged you and you may or may not ever forgive him or her. And of course you need the one who got away.
I would go one step further and say that real maturity is recognizing these regrets for what they are… history… and learning from it so we don’t repeat it. There are those who cling to the past and the glory days and whatever you want to call it. They long for simpler and seemingly sweeter. But there’s a richness and completeness that comes from what the future holds, in light of our history, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I’ve had my hard knocks and I could very well have some more. But come what may, I’ll always strive to end up on my own two feet.
See? I’m mature. So there!
So what does it mean, to put away childish things? Does it mean I have to return my Hello Kitty purse? Or stop wearing pony tails or pink lip gloss? I say no. I say that I love too deeply, I contain too many stories, I have way too many regrets, and I have far too much hope for tomorrow and time will tell. And those who look down on others for having fun should try sitting with them for awhile and listening to their stories. Maturity comes in many different flavors. Not just the bitter and boring one. But somehow some folks feel like if you’re having “too much” fun (whatever that is) you are immature.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, people chase after their youth like it’s something nostalgic and shiny. I don’t believe you could pay me enough money to relive my childhood. Not that I had a bad childhood overall, and not that there aren’t thousands of others who could complain rightfully more than me, but speaking as an adult now, I wouldn’t go back for the world.
But I might for a nice snog with Michael Vartan… (That’s a reference to Never Been Kissed, one of the lamest movies ever about someone reliving high school. But man that guy is hot.)