What is maturity but another name for expectations?

What do you think of when you hear the word "maturity"? On my perspective, this word has one of the highest morphological criteria that we could ever find, which means it’s not easy to come to an agreement when it comes to define one’s level of maturity (or lack of).

On the other hand, maturity is still one of the key aspects in a conjunction of determinant criterias in one’s life:

  • Developing careers
  • Promotions
  • Layoffs
  • Starting or breaking up a relationship
  • Considering the opinion of a person on one specific topic that's under discussion

And when we have maturity as a go/no-go factor to any aspect in life, we need to keep one thing in mind:

Your level of maturity is not defined by your actions, but by how aligned those actions are to what's expected from you.

But what are those expectations?

Of course there are social conventions of what we'll call here "basic maturity". The basic maturity will include whatever the majority of society considers the minimum acceptable behaviours necessary to exercise an specific role, and whichever actions fall out of these definitions will be automatically tagged as immature. You do not need to agree with these definitions, but you must know they exist.

Whenever you are exercising an specific role, you must also remember that there are many more roles embedded, and that each one of them will have its own set of basic maturity standards. For example, let's say your role is of a support representative in a call center. Apart from that, you also play the role of an employee, and before that you also play the role of man/women, and before that you play the role of being a human being and so on. Each one of these "roles" will have a full branch of basic maturity expectations which are not restricted to your career:

  1. Support representative: Expected to be formal, expected to be polite, expected to handle pressure, expected to have a defined set of technical skills, expected to never argue with a customer.
  2. Employee: Expected to be at work in time, expected to wear clothes compatible to your line of work, expected to show a level of respect to people based on their level of hierarchy.
  3. Man (mid 30): Expected to have a good job, expected to consume a determined type of media content, expected to have a specific vocabulary, expected to have a car, expected to live by himself or with his family, expected to have a wife, expected to have children, expected to provide for his family.

Note: This list could grow infinitely large if we separate each level more and more. We will also observe that a lot of the basic maturity definitions will seem sexist, racist, etc. but this is a discussion for a future article which I'll be glad to talk about.

One thing you can observe for each of the topics we listed on our example is that all of the basic maturity concepts are nothing more than expectations. Each one of them. No exception.

You are not obligated to follow any of those expectations, but you must know that for the majority of people, you will be tagged as someone who lacks maturity in that specific area. To see the actual proof of concept in this description, choose any of the definitions on the example above and picture a person who does not follow that definition/expectation. There is a possibility that you do not see that person as immature, but think about people you know. What would they think?

To better picture this, let's consider the "Expected to have a good job" and "Expected to consume a determined type of media content" basic maturity concepts.

  • Man A: Works as a manager for an IT company, loves documentaries and politics.
  • Man B: Works as a waiter at a local cafeteria, watches Spongebob squarepants and plays RPGs with his friends.

Even though most people would say "Man A" is more mature than "Man B", there is no actual proof of that because all the concepts we take as examples of maturity and immaturity were all made up by society expecations. Hardly someone would believe that "Man B" simply loves to work at cafeterias and enjoys being a waiter, as they would also hardly believe that Spongebob squarepants is an acceptable content to be consumed by a 40 year old man, as that does not express the general view of a successful life for that role (40 year old man), hence it does not express the life style of a mature man.

But the question is, who ever said that?

When did we build a common sense that someone who watches documentaries is more mature than someone who watches cartoons? As many things imposed by a society or a larger group of people, there is no official register of what is officially expected and what's not, but it is a common sense which part of the society and most likely, also a part of you.

If you disagree that this common sense exist, think about the example we brought above. Excluding all external factors and observing solely that comparison, who do you think the majority of society would consider the most mature man?

Ok, but what about more complex situations?

Now that you understand the concept of what we called as "basic maturity", we can now advance to more complex scenarios. This is necessary because basic maturity expectations can be more easily observed and comprehended, but the real challenging situations are those in which the role is not that clear or when the expectations are not from a large group, but from a smaller group (or even from a single person).

Have you ever asked for a raise or a promotion and you heard you still needed to work on some of the maturity aspects one would expect for that new salary/role? Or maybe you have been laid off from a company when you thought you were performing well? Or maybe your significant other dumped you because he said you were too immature for that relationship?

Well, in these cases, the maturity expectations tend to be more complex than the basic maturity concepts we previously mentioned. Not always, but usually.

I've seen lots of couples who broke up because the other person was "too immature" to have a relationship. Sometimes this happened because the other person was a big fan of a specific franchise, such as Transformers or Gossip Girl, which was seen as an example of lack of cultural maturity.

On the other hand, a lot of couples love to watch Transformers and/or Gossip Girl together.

Lot's of people were fired for investing too much time on building a social network inside the company, while lots of people were fired for not investing enough time on building this same social network.

Lot's of people were promoted or got raises because they were the only holders of one specific area of knowledge, while a lot of people were not promoted or had their raises refused because they were the only holders of one specific role and they didn't pass the knowledge along to other people on the team.

All these examples will bring us to the one question on this article:

What is the formula for maturity?

We can dilute this answer in a single phrase considering the variables below:

  • (Dr) The definer: The part which will define one's maturity.
  • (Dd) The defined: The part which is being analysed.
  • (R) The role: The role which the part must exercise and for which the maturity is being measured.
  • (E) The expectation: The definitions of maturity of the definer(Dr) for a given role(R).

So considering the variables above, here is our mathematical answer to the question:

The level of maturity (M) is defined by how aligned the defined (Dd) is with the expectations (E) of the definer (Dr) for an specific role (R).

Knowing the formula, you know that the big secret to achieve the level of maturity that you want is to know the expectation of the definer. Once you have this clear, you will only face two situations in life:

  1. You agree with the other part about the expectations for a given role, and so your maturity definition is aligned and you will have an easier way to achieve a goal together.
  2. You disagree with the other part about the expectations for a given role, so your maturity definition is not aligned and it will be harder for you to achieve a goal together.

If you are facing the first scenario, then your goal is to work towards those expectations. E.g: Both you (Dd) and your boss (Dr) agree on what's expected (E) of a manager (R) in your company.

But if you are facing the second scenario, then you will have two options:

  1. You want to achieve a goal really hard and then you accept complete submission to meet the expectations for that given role even though you disagree with them. E.g: You love Spongebob Squarepants but you will accept to stop watching it because your boyfriend sees that as lack of maturity for a person who he is relating with.
  2. You believe in your expectation for that role more than you pursue the goal. E.g: You completely disagree on what the expectation for a Manager is. You don't want to be the manager that the company is expecting you to be.

The second scenario eventually leads you to a disruptive outcome.

Quitting a job, breaking up a relationship, giving up on proposing a promotion, etc.

To make sure you will always make the best decision you will need to keep three clear thoughts in your mind. They might be conflicting in a lot of situations, but they must always be remembered:

  1. Don't be arrogant. Your expectation of maturity for a role is not the only one and sometimes other people can bring you different perspectives in which you'll end up agreeing on. Listen to the expectation of other people for a given role and use all of them to build your own expectation.
  2. Do not forget your own expectations. A lot of times your expectation of maturity for a given role is just different and there is nothing wrong on quitting a job or ending a relationship because of that. Your expectations are part of who you are and part of your personality. Sticking with them is important for your well being and for you to feel that you are in the right place doing the right thing. Do not submit to a expectation you completely disagree.
  3. Not everything in life will be aligned to what you expect. Sometimes people will submit to your expectations to meet your perspective of maturity, and you will need to do the same to meet some of the expectations for another person. You can have different perspectives for a role without them necessarily being complete opposites. As bad as this sounds, submission from all parts involved is a core part of any kind of successful relationship. If you don't like the word "submission", think of it as adaptability.

There is no right or wrong. What this article meant to show you is that every proof of maturity is just a set of expectations for a given role, not a clear line. There is no rule for what a waiter or a manager must be in a maturity level, only what is expected of them in a given scenario. Know the expectation, see if you agree with it, choose to stick with it or not.

Keep in mind that expectations will always be there for every role you'll play in life. You expect things from people and people expect things from you. Don't run away from these expectations. Learn and use them.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? The Questioner.