I think we can all agree that the people whom we feel have a high level of maturity, they also possess a breadth of life experience. It’s a common misconception that the older we get, the more mature we become. Sometimes this is true… and then you meet the 35-year-old who still acts like he’s 17.
No doubt that you have the opportunity to become more mature with the more life experience that you obtain. But what turns this opportunity into reality?
You can possess 50 years of life experience, traveling the world, working many jobs, dating different people, trying new things & exploring different cities… and still be relatively immature. So it’s not the experience alone that creates maturity.
It’s the experience along with the reflection.
It’s not just about the places you’ve traveled. Why did you choose those places? What people or things were there that enticed you to visit? What did you want to achieve while you were there? Who did you meet? What did you talk about? What/Who did you miss when you returned?
It’s not just about the jobs you’ve worked. Why did you apply for the job? What’d you learn while you were there? How can you apply your new skills to other areas of life? Did the job cater to your strengths? Why did you quit? Why were you fired? How did the job affect your mood? Your relationships? Your social life?
It’s not just about the people you’ve dated. What attracted you to them? How did you feel when you were with them? Did you miss them when they were gone? Why/why not? How did they feel about you? How did you handle the uncomfortable situations? Did you communicate well? Often enough? In the same way, or different ways? Why’d you break it off? How did this relationship affect your next one? And was it in a healthy or unhealthy way?
It’s not just about the things you’ve tried. Why were you drawn to that activity? How did it make you feel when you were doing it? Did you do it alone or with a group? Did you do it more than once? 10 times? 100 times? Why/why not? Do you want to turn it into a career? Did you try to get others to do it too? Was it dangerous? Rewarding? Exhilarating? Emotional?
It’s not just about the cities you’ve lived in. How long were you there? What brought you there in the first place? A person? The nightlife? Mountains? Why’d you leave? Why’d you stay? Does the city align with your beliefs & interests? What type of people have you met? Do you find yourself wanting to go back (after you’ve left)? Can you raise a family there? Do you feel at home?
Sense of Urgency
Your reflection needs to happen around the same time you have the experience. The longer you wait, the less valuable the reflection becomes. And if you wait too long, it loses all its value.
You can even reflect during the experience. In fact, I encourage you to reflect before, during AND after. Perhaps the questions you ask yourself before you go aren’t called “reflection,” but they’re still good things to consider. And they’ll help you reflect when you’re in the moment (as opposed to getting so caught up in the moment that you forget why you’re there).
You can live in a place for years and never mature more than a few days worth.
You can date a person for months, and if you’re not honest with yourself, end up coming away less mature than when you started.
Experience + Reflection = Maturity