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?)
I admit that for most of my 20s, I thought I was a grown-up when in reality I was a grown man-child. It’s easy to see that in retrospect. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Immature people don’t realize they’re immature, and that was the case with me. It wasn’t until trusted others in my life pointed out—lovingly, I must add—the parts of me that were immature and guided me toward growth.
If you don’t have someone like that in your life, I suppose the next best thing is an article written by someone who’s gone through it. Maybe that’s why you’re reading this post right now. Not sure if you’re blind to your own immaturity? Here are several warning signs to look out 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.
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.