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Age vs. Society: How Long Until Maturity?

Updated on July 24, 2015
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"You're mature for your age."

It was a vocalized observation by adults which I heard frequently as a teenager. What was really going on was my slow descent into madness as a young person with a mind that was exercised on a regular basis. Meanwhile, my peers rarely bothered taking advantage of theirs. Honestly, if this sounds self-absorbed in any way, I apologize. I refuse to write an article in which I sound narcissistic. My intention is to disprove the understanding that teenagers are naturally immature just because of their age. To be clear, by maturity, I mean responsible, interested in learning and growing as a person, and thinking of others. I acknowledge that everyone's definition of maturity is a bit different, but probably not that different.

Have you ever been told that you're mature for your age?

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I have written about many of my life experiences which may help others. This time, I am going to write about how difficult it was to be a teen, surrounded by peers who, while I was changing my religion and looking forward to college, were more interested in sharing stories of drinking, drugs, and parties. I will talk about how those feelings come back, multiplied, as an adult who works mostly with immature teenagers. The majority of my co-workers understand they are supposed to be teens and young adults, but they remain as co-dependent as toddlers.

The less informed, the more admirable.

Teens who apply themselves in school may have often been deemed "outcasts," but it isn't quite the way it once was. To me, it has always seemed like the others were threatened by the intelligence of the outspoken student with a brain. I remember a classmate in my International Relations class who used to bring up inconsistencies in how America is viewed compared to how it opporates. He would actively argue, respectfully, with the teacher who frequently tried to change the subject. Perhaps the teacher was terrified that the student was making too much sense, or perhaps the teacher did agree, but legally couldn't vocalize it. Regardless, I was not the only teenager in high school enraged by how little almost everyone else knew.

Many arguments exist to explain why this happens.

It is my believe that it has a lot to do with the fact that society demeans the younger generations. Through being given such low expectations, they go with it, and put in less effort. This conclusion comes from observing adults and teens, and now having experience as both. Was the comment "You're mature for your age" just a compliment or also an insult to my age group? Now, as an adult, I am more often disappointed by how little most teenagers do know.

How old were you when you first used a vacuum?

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The joys of working with teens.

As mentioned, the only interactions I have with teens, these days, is at my job. When we have a teenager who seems to be free-thinking, many times it turns into a disappointment. They switch from having interesting opinions to showing their greatest weakness—lack of education—in about a split second! Yet, they have access to so much information, online. It's sad, really. Then, there are the more common teens. The ones who make you wonder how they got to their age.

Many have never used a vacuum. They look at the vacuum cleaner like it's more complicated than the latest iPhone. Sometimes, you wonder if it's just the type of vacuum, but then the words of confirmation come, "I have never vacuumed, until now."

I know what you may be thinking: So, a kid hasn't vacuumed? Give them a break!

Ah, but that's not all. Next comes the not-so-surprising realization that they think "on the clock" means sitting there "on their phone" while I do the work for them.

Oh, sure, don't trouble yourself. I'll help all of the customers. I wouldn't want you to acknowledge that other people exist or that you need to work to earn your paychecks.

Observing the way they interact at work is a pretty good indicator that their maturity level is below their age.

Do you think technology is to blame for less maturity?

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The technology argument.

Most people from previous generations, my mother included, blame technology for why so many teens are far lazier than I was or they were at that age. Part of the reason is the good old instant gratification factor. One can find pretty much any book online, using key words, and no longer have to experience the work of looking through the physical hard copy. Of course, easy access is not always the case. Key words aren't guaranteed to be perfectly entered into the system. Sometimes, it does take me a few days to find everything I'm looking for.

Now, if technology has almost always been a large part of my life, shouldn't I be more lazy? After all, I learned how to type, perform searches on the internet, and use Excel in Elementary and Middle School. After school, I was going online to chat via instant messenger. Doesn't that count as influence by technology? Yet, you will never see me sitting on my ass when I should be helping customers or working on the next task.

Books from college
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The disappointment of socializing in college.

What's worse than society encouraging teenagers to be lazy and irresponsible? Society encouraging college students to be lazy and irresponsible, and believe me, it does happen. I remember having a conversation with my brother about how when he would go to a class of young adults who were, hopefully, of their own choice to be there, he expected to have intellectual conversations with his classmates. I shared this assumption; unfortunately, we were both very mistaken. While he would sit, waiting for the teacher, all he overheard was, "Dude, I was so wasted, last night."

So, this article is not merely about teens, but also about entire generations of people who choose to be less mature, or perhaps I am wrong and they can't help it, like a maturity complex.

What do you think?

© 2015 social thoughts

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  • social thoughts profile image
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    social thoughts 23 months ago from New Jersey

    Bill,

    Thank you! You bring up some great points! My mom is an educator, too, and sees this all of the time. I agree that it has to do with the parents and people around them.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

    It's an interesting discussion. I taught school, on and off, from 1978 until 2011....eighteen years total. Over that time I saw a gradual decrease in responsibility, less desire to work hard, less knowledge about practical things (like vacuums).....and it would be easy to blame the kids and say they are lazy or they don't care....but I think it goes deeper than that. Somewhere in there we also have to address the parents and their role. Are parents expecting less of kids these days, and what damage does that do to a child?

    I'm rambling....great discussion.

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