Recent events have made me think about what it means to be "grown up". For some people, this happens early in life. For others, you can be well into getting your senior discount at your favorite restaurant before it happens. And some people never fully get there.
No matter when it starts, growing up is a process and it doesn't happen overnight. Part of being an adult is understanding that. Just because someone is in their 20's doesn't mean that they are any less mature or grown up as someone in, say, their 50's. Sometimes the opposite can be true.
There are a handful of different words that I would use to describe a mature adult:
Humble - This one is not easy for everyone. Humility comes in many forms and some people never quite get there. In my teen years, "humble" was probably not a word that one would use to describe me. It still may not be in certain circumstances. I feel like I've come quite a long way with this one, though. I'll be the first to admit that I'm far from perfect. When at odds with people, I used to lash out and project blame/fault onto anyone but myself. I've finally come to a point in my life where I can take a step back from the situation and see that maybe I've said or done something that I shouldn't have. And, instead of lashing out, I need to accept that I made a mistake and take ownership without anger. With humility aslo comes the realization that I am, in fact, NOT perfect. I don't know everything. Sometimes I'm wrong. I'm not the best of the best. But guess what? I'm human, and it's okay to be wrong. It's also okay to not be the best. The feeling of inadequacy sucks, but it's not the end of the world. There is always going to be someone who knows more or can do it better than you, and it's a good thing. That's how we learn and grow.
Respectful - My philosophy is this: Everyone deserves to be respected. That is, until they give you a good reason not to be. And even then, outright disrespect is still not necessarily acceptable. *Lightbulb* That was a fun one to learn. Every human being deserves what I refer to as a "base level" of respect. Just for being a person. This base level does not need to be earned - we've ALL earned it simply by being a person. As each person grows and learns and accomplishes [insert achievement you deem respectable], they earn additional respect from those around them - yay! Sometimes, we come across people that do some pretty horrible things. People that are rude or lazy or just outright despicable. So what happens then? In your mind, they may have sunk below that "base level" of respect. Here's where being a "grown up" comes into play. You could choose to be horrible right back - they deserve it, right? XXX - Wrong-O!! That just makes you an immature jerk - talk about sinking to a lower level. There are plenty of people who have done or said some pretty crappy things to me in my life. But guess what? I choose to either turn the other cheek (because, let's face it, if you're an adult and you're acting like a child, I pity you. That's pretty pathetic.), or just eliminate the problem person from my life. *wipes hands* Peace out, dude/chica! Best of luck to you.
Considerate - Let's talk about being selfish. Raise your hand if you've been selfish in your life *raises hand*. No question--we've all been there. Now, raise your hand if you like being around selfish people. *wah wah waaahhhh* No one likes being around a person who is consistently selfish or inconsiderate. Thinking of others isn't something that just comes naturally to everyone. It's a skill that we started learning when we were wee little tots and our parents insisted that we share our toys, take turns, and let our friends pick the next game. (Of course, there are some people who never got that....what a shame...) It's hard to set your own wants or needs aside so that other people can be happy. But a mature adult knows that this is essential in forming happy, healthy relationships with those around them.
Open-minded - Let's talk controversial issues. No? Honestly, there are some people that I have no problem discussing "the issues" with. There are also those that I would rather jab a fork into my own eye than talk about government or religion. Guess what? I live in a pretty conservative, Christian state where there is one VERY dominant religion. I happen to be a part of said religion. We have very specific beliefs when it comes to things like alcohol, modesty, and homosexuality. In this state, opposing those views can have a pretty harsh social impact on a person, which is unfortunate. There are those who live their lives believing that they are absolutely right and if anyone opposes them, that person MUST be absolutely wrong. There can be no other way. Fortunately, I have lived in several different places all over the country, and have gotten an eyeful of what the "real world" is like (as opposed to being stuck inside the Utah "bubble"). It is full of many different kinds of people with different beliefs and habits. I think it's a good thing. It's kind of awesome, actually. I stand amazed at how closed-minded people can be - all over the world. I believe that a "grown up" accepts peoples' differences, without harsh judgment and moves on with their lives. I'm a Christian. I'm heterosexual. I think pineapple on pizza is an abomination. You're what? Muslim? Gay? You like disgusting pizza toppings? That's fine. Doesn't make you a bad person. It just means we have differing beliefs. I'm cool with that. In fact, my religion has what we call "Articles of Faith", and one of them says "We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." Well, hallelujah! You don't want to be a Mormon? Fine by me. You find the same sex attractive? Okay then! As long as your beliefs don't lead to actions that have an ACTUAL negative impact on other people - have at it. We just have to agree to disagree about pineapple on pizza. (See how humility and respect factor in here?)
Wise - Being smart or educated does NOT necessarily make you wise. Wisdom comes from a combination of knowledge, time, and understanding. Just because you're older doesn't mean you're wiser. Period. A wise person understands this. Those lacking wisdom tend to act like immature children. That makes me sad. What do you do with the knowledge you have acquired? Will you use it for good or for evil? (Lay off--I have a small man-child in my house who is super-hero-obsessed)
Assertive - Many people confuse assertiveness with being abrasive, overbearing, or domineering. *finger wag* Nope. Being assertive means being confident and, in some cases (when necessary), authoritative. The World English Dictionary defines assertive as "confident and direct in claiming one's rights or putting forward one's views". There are a few different ways one can choose to behave in a given situation: Passive, Assertive, Agressive, and (my LEAST favorite) Passive-Agressive. Passiveness can often lead to one being used, abused, or taken advantage of. Not good. Aggressiveness can portray one as villainous and, therefore, make their opposing party feel attacked. Again--not good. Passive-aggressiveness, in my opinion, is the most frustrating and immature of the bunch. When I come across people who act this way, the first thing that comes to mind is "Oh my gosh--GROW UP!!" I also think of words like 'highschool' and 'immature' and 'pathetic/sad'. So we are left with assertiveness. This one can be tricky. Assertiveness with a lack of respect for others can turn into aggressiveness. Assertiveness with a lack of respect for yourself turns into passiveness. It takes time and practice to get the correct mixture, so start now! In order to live life as a happy, healthy adult, you need to set boundaries with clear and just consequences - and you have to stick to them. Try not to be abusive, and don't let people abuse you. Stick up for yourself and stand your ground.
Now, all the above being said, let me assure you that I do not for one second feel like I've achieved a perfect blend of all of these. I've still got some "growing up" to do. I have a lot to learn, and I'm open to it. I don't have it all together, but I'm working on it. Are you?