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Growing up and getting older is one thing.  Maturity is quite another. Don’t believe me? Just hear me out, maybe you’ll find something familiar in this story. 

Ever since my late teens I proclaimed myself as a mature person. Often times other people referred to me that way as well. And in a way we were all correct. Being raised only by my mom after my parents split when I was five, I had to skip a big chunk of childhood and take on many grown-up responsibilities. That pushed me to act more adult-like sooner than most of my peers and it was much easier for me to relate to people much older than me than kids my age, which was both great and also sucked at the same time. I very much missed out on a lot of the fun you’re supposed to have in between. But no point of tripping on what’s behind me… 

Very confident and “mature” I moved into my twenties. I clearly remember often schooling and…ehm…educating people more than twice my age about life, how to go about it and deal with it. Oh boy, just thinking about it now makes me laugh but also makes me feel little embarrassed for myself. But at that time, no one could tell me shit. I thought I had it all figured out because, well you know, maturity…

A freakish incident happened the year I turned 33. I was in Brazil, in the middle of the street drinking with friends when one of them out of nowhere started shouting at me in front of everyone. He was in my face screaming at me all the things I didn’t like about myself and feared deep down inside might be true. Like why do I need so much attention from everyone and whether I ever consider the fact that my behavior is hurting others and that kind of “fun” stuff… I literally felt like the train called my life just got derailed. It was so intense I felt the shift physically.  I was devastated in every sense of the word. I felt like someone stripped me down and exposed me in the most cruel way I have experienced up until that point.  Once I wiped my tears and took many deep breaths (couple weeks later) that whole experience made me realize that the only way of not going completely off the rails into Dissastervile I needed to shift gears. I heard every word he said and it cut deep.  It was then and there I realized that everything I said and did affected everyone around me. And that to live a meaningful, fulfilling and healthy life, I needed to consider that, not just carelessly satisfying my own vanity and needs. I remember it was at that moment I finally started heading towards maturity and understood what it meant. I believe maturity is awareness of self, the world around us and how all we do and say affects everything in that world. Then behaving accordingly. With kindness, compassion, less judgement and more understanding.  It comes at different times for everyone. Some never reach that destination. It doesn’t mean they can’t. It’s something we have to want. It’s a conscious choice and a daily practice that once you start, never ends. But it makes life so much richer and so much more meaningful. And whether that friend was aware of it or not, whether it was an act of maturity with a goal in mind or just  an outburst of anger, his actions very much affected the course of my life, luckily in the most positive way. And probably saved me. I am forever thankful for that. 

 

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COPYTRIGHT © Michal Gregus 2019