Adulthood is a funny thing. I'm 25, have my own apartment, pay for groceries, and manage to take care of everything my cat needs. By all criteria, I'm an adult. But to be honest, sometimes I feel like a teenager who just somehow tricked people into letting me sign a lease. I still collect Funkos, play Nintendo Switch games, and get excited every time a new Marvel movie comes out. What even is "maturity," anyways?
This week, Reddit user u/CrispP_bacon asked, "What is falsely seen as a sign of maturity?" As usual, the question generated a lot of really interesting, thought-provoking conversations. Here are some of the best responses:
Note: Items 9 and 10 mention grooming.
1. "Working overtime. I just started my first 'adult' job in trades about a month and a half ago, and so many of the experienced employees shame new workers because we just want to do our standard 40 hours and maybe work a weekend here and there. Most of the employees work every ounce of overtime available due to some feeling of obligation to the company. Like, dude, I’m making good money already, and I actually like having some time to myself outside of work. Life is too short to spend 60 hours a week at work."
2. "Constant settling. It's true that you can't always get what you want, but so many people just accept shitty jobs, partners, homes, etc., because, 'Grow up. Step into the real world. This is just how it is.' The expectation of constant instant gratification is immature, but it's perfectly fine to pursue the things you want and have a firm, unchanging standard for what you will and won't accept.
"On the flip side, the concept of [always] 'going for the gold' is also false maturity. Maturity is realizing that it's okay to just want the bronze. The understanding of settling for less vs. having your own standard for achievement is true maturity."
3. "Smoking. As a former smoker, it's one of the worst mistakes I made in my life. I quit before it hurt me mortally, but I'm asthmatic now because I was that stupid little wise-ass who thought smoking was cool back in the mid-'90s. Asthma isn't a joke in real life. Every time I get the flu, I end up in the hospital because my lungs don't have the same ability to weather the illness the way they would have had I not smoked."
4. "Giving up things you enjoy because they're 'childish.' In my opinion, belittling adults for enjoying what they like is what's childish."
"True adults are secure about whatever they love — be it action figures, fairy tales, video games, etc. Those who ridicule these people for their interests are actually the childish ones."
"I always thought there would be a point in my life where I wouldn't be interested in things like video games or Transformers. I looked at my dad, and felt one day I'd just be 'mature' enough to put it all away. That day has not yet come. I'm 50."
5. "Having children."
"My family thinks I am skirting responsibility by not having kids. I know a lot of people who had children just because they felt they were obligated to, and then ended up neglecting them. I once told somebody that I don't want kids ever, and she said, 'My boyfriend's not afraid to take responsibility and have kids,' as if I wasn't a real man for not having them."
6. "When the eldest child is treated like a third parent and is 'good' at it, it does not mean they’re mature. They’re still children…children forced to raise their siblings."
7. "Having a career requiring very specialized expertise. I know some doctors and lawyers who are incredibly emotionally immature."
8. "Traveling a lot. It doesn’t magically make you a well-rounded person with plenty of seasoned perspective. Plenty of trust fund babies and people withdraw from the First National Bank of Mom and Dad to stay in luxurious hotels and treat locals like zoo animals to be photographed. You aren’t better than people who don’t have the time, money, or health to hop on a plane every few months and take pictures of landmarks for Instagram."
9. "Having breasts. A frightening amount of men think it's fine to hit on 'young women' as young as 9 years old as soon as they show even the tiniest hint of development because 'she's grown now.' No, boobs aren't a sign of maturity — you're just being a creep toward minors."
"Same thing with menstruation. And any physical sign of puberty — this goes for all genders."
10. "'Dating' older men as a teenager. In high school (late 2010s), we used to think that our classmates with boyfriends in their 20s or early 30s were so much more mature than us. I remember being jealous that they were with older men while we had to deal with idiot high school boys. In reality, those girls were being manipulated and groomed. It breaks my heart knowing that so many young women have to heal from trauma from men who they thought loved them."
11. "Moving out of your parents' house. Some kids I know moved out so they could just drink and smoke weed nonstop without their parents knowing. Other people I know stayed with their parents because help was needed at home. Moving out doesn't always mean maturity. Sometimes, understanding the advantages staying at home may give you long-term financially is worth it."
12. "Not admitting that someone hurt you because you want to be the 'bigger person.' It's totally okay to cry and show emotion when someone hurts you emotionally or physically. Acting apathetic does not mean that you're being mature."
"As a man, holding back tears or asking for comfort and company when you feel burdened or sad [is treated as a sign of maturity]. It shouldn't be like that. Grown-up or not, when you need consolation or a break, you should get it."