Maturity is a trait where a person has the experience and wisdom to behave in a resolved, resolute, and secure way.
Maturity is about wisdom. It usually comes after a lot of introspection, philosophical thinking, failure, and learned humility.
Society has developmental markers for maturity (e.g. age 18 to vote). Nevertheless, it’s a more fluid cultural concept than that. Maturity is not only about age. Many adults are immature—we might say that some adults behave childishly or immaturely.
Below are some examples of maturity, starting with the five indicators of maturity proposed by Todres (2011).
Todres’ Five Indicators of Maturity
- Political participation–If a person is able to cogently participate in political debate then they are considered mature (and therefore should be allowed to vote).
- Independent economic power – A mature person should be able to work to earn a living, so long as they’re not prohibited by factors outside of their control such as a disability.
- Responsibility and accountability – A mature person should be responsible. As a result, they should also be able to be held responsible for their actions in court.
- Bodily integrity – A mature person should be able to care for their own body, and also have the right to control their own body.
- Family rights – A mature person should be able to care for their family, and therefore have the right to start a family if they so desire.
Maturity Examples in Everyday Life
- Controlling your urges
- Having clear priorities in life
- Accepting your faults and failings
- Being trustworthy with valuable things
- Using risk assessment effectively
- Being able to think ethically
- Diffusing rather than escalating conflicts
- Respect for others
- Tolerance of difference
- Taking the high road
- Knowing when to back down for your own good
- Accepting loss gracefully
- Being a graceful winner
- Being pragmatic to gradually move toward your goals
- Accepting some things are out of your control
- Understanding you can’t know everything
- Being able to acknowledge when you’re wrong
- Developing humility
- Being self-reliant
- Developing your own morals rather than following your parents blindly
- Using past experiences to inform present action
- Overcoming egotism of childhood
- Listening to others who you disagree with respectfully
- Exercising patience with others
- Delayed gratification
1. Being Disciplined to Control Urges
A mature individual has self-control, and this virtue applies to many circumstances. The ability to control one’s urges means that the person is behaving rationally and with good reason—not based on emotions.
For example, a mature person can control their temper and not engage in meaningless arguments.
Another example is being able to resist buying something on a whim. Children and teenagers typically do not have this self-control—they often take what they want without thinking of the consequences because they lack maturity.
2. Knowing Your Priorities in Life
Mature people know what matters most, and they have the sense to line up things in the proper order of importance. They are good at prioritization because they know what matters.
In addition, mature people understand that resources are finite so they need to forego some things to have the more important things in life.
Since resources are finite, mature individuals know that they must not spend on unimportant things when there are bills that need to get paid. They also know how to use their time wisely. Children, for example, will typically play first before doing their homework—mature individuals do it the other way around.
3. Being Aware of One’s Strengths and Weaknesses
Self-awareness is an important indicator of maturity. A person who knows his or her strengths and weaknesses can gauge situations and make smart decisions.
Children usually make decisions out of fear—but then they jump and run and get hurt because they do not know what their limitations are.
Mature individuals understand the things they can do well and what they are not good at. As such, they can take appropriate action to learn more before taking on a new job or taking a business risk.
4. Understanding the Value of Risk Assessment
Children have poor risk assessment skills. For example, they will cross the road and even bother about incoming vehicles. Mature individuals must have already learned from their experiences and use these experiences to assess risks.
As a mature person, you must consider the possible consequences of your actions. The potential negative consequences are the “risks” from certain tasks.
This doesn’t mean not taking risks. Rather, it means taking measured risks and having a good sense of when a risk is worthwhile and when it is not.
It is why mature people walk away from a fight or attempt to de-escalate arguments—they know it is not worth it based on a mature risk assessment.
5. Ability to Bounce Back or Be Resilient
Resiliency is the ability to return to a normal state of mind after a devastating blow. Life is not always favorable, and mature people know this.
Staying down after a disappointment can be an indication that a person is not mature enough to recover from difficulties. Of course, this does not include mental illnesses like depression which need to be considered separately.
Mature individuals can suffer from a setback, like losing in a game or not getting a promotion, and bounce back from this failure to move on and become a stronger person.
6. The Capacity to Respect Others
Ignorance is a sign of immaturity. Being able to respect anyone despite their ethnicity, gender, religion, or political views is a sign that you have had enough experience to understand the diversity and intrinsic value of all human beings.
Maturity happens because of exposure to a wide range of people in life. It comes from knowing that you cannot control what people believe in, that people are different, and that we should be tolerant of one another if we want peace.
Immature people insist that they are always right. It is always about them—they have a feeling of delusional superiority.
7. Being Able to Take the High Road
Taking the high road means doing the right thing even when there is a temptation not to. Taking the high road is a sign of maturity because you’re standing by your moral code when others may not.
For example, a mature individual knows how to apologize if she makes a mistake.She stays true to her moral code.
Immature people will not do this—how could they when their pride sets aside their morality?
Taking the high road also means not engaging in useless and meaningless arguments. Sometimes, it is better to let things go rather than dig in and cause trouble.
8. The Competence to be Pragmatic
Pragmatism is a thought process where you want to get things done even if the outcome isn’t your ideal. Pragmatiststake action.
A mature individual knows that not everything in life is handed on a silver spoon. Things get tough and unfavorable. Being a pragmatic individual means you try to find ways to make turn things around to make things a little better – step by step.
In youth, we’re often idealists. We want the world to be a certain way and we’re uncompromising in our pursuit of our ideals. But as we gain experience, we realize why the world isn’t the way we want it to be. Instead, we learn that progress toward our ideals is slow and arduous. That’s where pragmatic action comes in.
9. The Power to be Self-Reliant
Self-reliance is a sure sign of maturity—even animals are able to fend for themselves eventually. Of course, this example does not include people who have special needs.
Self-reliance means you can manage your own affairs. You no longer need support and guidance for basic needs. A mature person knows how to care for themself, find a job, and solve problems
. It is the self-reliant people who also often solves the problems of other people (and it is why they often get paid a high salary).
10. Acceptance of Things Beyond your Control
Mature individuals resign to the fact that not everything in life is within their control. So, instead of lamenting this, a mature individual has the strength to know what they can change and the wisdom to know what they can’t.
For example, in your early life, you might strive pointlessly to figure out how to live forever. But as you gain knowledge and experience, you realize that this is something outside of your control. Instead, you can make the most of your years by eating healthily, keeping a regular sleep routine, and exercising.
Here, you’ve graduated from an idealistic sense of being able to fix the world into a more mature sense of what you can realistically do for yourself and your community.
Maturity comes with experience. To become mature, one has to be rational—one has to be a thinker. Being emotional about things will not bring about maturity.
Of course, being impatient about achieving maturity is immaturity by itself. You must allow time to take you there—and ensure that you always approach things with a reasonable mind.
Todres, J. (2011). Maturity. Hous. L. REv., 48, 1107. See: https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/hulr48§ion=41
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.