Growing older and growing up are two different things. Contrary to popular belief, maturity doesn’t always come with age – in fact, many people go through their whole lives without ever scratching the surface of what it really means to be an adult. (What is real maturity, anyway?)
For many in their 20s, you think you’re grown up, but in retrospect, you’re far from it. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Immature people don’t realize they’re immature, and that’s often the case. It’s not until others point out – lovingly, I must add – the parts of you that are immature that guides you toward growth.
Even if you don’t have someone like that in your life, it’s still easy to recognize the signs that you need to grow up and start being an adult. You just have to know what to look for.
1. You’re Always Complaining
Mature people know the difference between being content with what they have and fighting for what they want, and they know the right time to do both, and they know how to do in a civil and effective manner. Immature people are never happy with what they have, are always pining after things they feel entitled to have, are never satisfied, and are always complaining about their circumstances.
2. You Hate Responsibility
Immature people never want to be on the hook for anything. Whether it’s what they said, what they did, what they bought, what they were told to do, or whatever else—they never want to be bound by duty or obligation, they don’t want to be liable for the well-being of something or someone else, and they’re never open to criticism regardless of how valid it is.
3. You Keep Repeating the Same Mistakes
Mature people understand that all humans make mistakes, that one big aspect of true maturity is being able to learn from mistakes and do better next time. Immature people either believe that they don’t make mistakes or refuse to acknowledge their mistakes as something to be addressed. As a result, they never learn or decide to change ways; instead, they live in them and fall back on empty phrases like “That’s just who I am.”
4. You Always Play the Victim
For an immature person, nothing is ever their fault. Anything that goes wrong in their life can be blame-shifted to something else: traffic, their boss, their spouse, society at large, the government, world forces, the patriarchy, etc. Taken to the extreme, immature people throw tantrums when playing the victim card just doesn’t get them as far as they want.
5. You Never Leave Your Comfort Zone
Maturity implies growth, and growth implies change. In order to change, you can’t just do the same things over and over again. Mature people are content with what they have and where they’re at, but they still strive to stretch themselves. Immature people are complacent with their station in life and never attempt to do anything that might make them even a little uncomfortable. The clearest path to a stagnant life is to always seek comfort above all else.
6. You Live Beyond Your Means
Mature people are mindful of their finances and take care to live within their means. They don’t feel entitled to luxury goods or services, like buying the latest iPhone every year or leasing a brand new car every few years or buying expensive furniture on credit. Immature people not only feel entitled to these things, but drive themselves into debt chasing after them. When your checkbook isn’t balanced, neither will be your life be in balance. It’s okay to look for ways to live a lavish life, but still save money.
7. You Never Make Sacrifices
Mature people understand this very important truth: “You can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want.” We all have infinite wants and desires. The mature person understands that time and resources are finite in life; as such, they prioritize the various things in their life and learn to sacrifice the lesser things. The immature person is unable or unwilling to give anything up.
8. You Bring Others Down to Lift Yourself Up
Real maturity involves confidence that doesn’t depend on what others think of you; there’s a sense of self-assurance that comes with true maturity, and this self-assurance comes from understanding that everyone has equal dignity and value as humans. Immature people think that life is a hierarchy where some people are better than others, and subsequently think that bringing down someone else is an effective way to lift themself up to a higher level. This is, of course, untrue.
9. You Have No Sense for Social Etiquette
Maturity is understanding that humans are social creatures, and this means that socialization is important. It’s one thing to eschew certain social structures or traditions, and it may even be acceptable to live as an independent thinker in your own unique way, but that doesn’t give you the right to be an asshole. As a member of society, the mature person treats everyone with the same respect and dignity that he’d expect from others.
10. Your Word Means Nothing
If you say you’ll do something, you do it. If you say you believe something, you live by it. If you say something to someone’s face, you mean it. That’s called integrity, and it’s an important element of maturity – one that’s slowly deteriorating in this day and age, unfortunately. The mature person understands that words, actions, and beliefs are all intimately related. The immature person says whatever they want to say without any weight behind their words.
11. You Haven’t Changed in the Last 5 Years
Are you perfect? Of course not. Nobody is. Are you willing to address your imperfections? More than that, are you actively working to improve on who you are as a person? The mature person says yes; the immature person says they’re fine as they are, that they don’t need to change. If maturity implies growth and growth implies change, then lack of change implies immaturity. If you’re the exact same person today as you were five years ago, then you haven’t matured at all.
12. You Can’t Hold Down a Job
Outside of layoffs or things out of your control, adults are able to hold down a steady job. It’s immature people that often say “I’m holding out for a management” position, but never stay at one place long enough to qualify. Jobs aren’t always fun, but they pay the bills. If your resume has more gaps that job experience, it might be a sign that it’s time to grow up and look for a job that helps you with that other issue – living beyond your means.
13. Your Friends Have Outgrown You
Friends come and go, but if your friends are all busy with careers, relationships, and even starting a family while you’re still figuring out the basics, you might notice them slowly drifting away to hang out with their more mature friends. Their lives have went in a completely different direction. Luckily, it often one of these friends that starts pointing out signs that you need to grow up. They care about you, so listen to them.
14. You Party All Night and Sleep All Day
This lifestyle is amazing when you’re young. In your early 20s, it’s not problem partying at night and sleeping in till noon or later. But, as you get older, not only is it harder to bounce back from an all-nighter, but it’s difficult to fit in adult responsibilities, like a job. While you can still live it up on the weekend a little, real maturity is leaving that lifestyle behind and focusing on career, friends, relationships, and hobbies versus an endless party.
15. You’re Still Eating Like a College Student
If your food groups consist of Ramen noodles and day old pizza, this is a big red flag that it’s time to grow up and start being an adult. While you don’t have to be a Michelin star chef, you should know by now how to make basic meals that are a little healthier for you, such as steaming vegetables or grilling meat. You could even use a meal kit delivery service to help you out. Your body will thank you and you’ll even impress your friends with your new culinary skills.
16. You Don’t Understand Finances
Taxes, balancing a checkbook, credit card interest rates, retirement funds – those are all things adults have to know about. You don’t need to be a financial expert, but if you have zero clue about filing taxes or how your credit card interest is calculated, it’s time to shift focus and be more mature about your finances. The more you learn, the easier it is to balance your budget, save for things you want, and set yourself up for a cozy retirement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I always have to be mature?
You don’t have to be 100 percent mature all the time. Growing up and being an adult doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun. But now, you need more balance in your life. For instance, if you’re going into work exhausted and hungover from a party the night before, you could lose your job. So, find a balance between being an adult and still being responsibly immature from time to time.
What if my friends refuse to grow up with me?
If you’re with a group of friends that check off all the boxes for being immature, talk to them. Explain that all of you need to start growing up and focusing on your adult futures. If they absolutely refuse to change, you might become the friend that outgrows them. But, don’t worry. You’re going to make new friends that better fit with the new mature you.
How can I learn to grow up?
Talk with your parents, more mature friends, co-workers, bosses, and even life coaches to figure out where to start. Just making simple changes in your life is all it takes to grow up and be the adult you were meant to be.
Image credit: Alina Prokudina
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