I once had a relationship with a man 5 years younger than me. He was the first guy I dated who wasn’t proudly homophobic & I’d only recently figured out why that was important to me. He was the only man who didn’t constantly size me up like a piece of meat, ponder how best to hunt & ravage me. It looked like maturity. It wasn’t.
Maturity is a thing that we aspire to achieve like it’s a trophy. I think we realise that it’s a performance, the first time we’re deeply disappointed by someone we idolise.
I worked careers that employ much younger people. But I was also the youngest in my class, an early achiever, the youthful wunderkind in many situations. Am I behind my generation or ahead of it? It feels like I’m never quite the right fit with the normal timeline.
I’ve learnt to pause & consider before shooting my mouth off (I was a hothead, ask all my teachers & college classmates). That relationship taught me first to fear angry men, then anger itself & finally to always be wary of the two. The world is full of angry men & systems that support them in hurting me. I had to learn to navigate these if I wanted to proceed & so I did. Is that maturity? No, it’s just survival.
People who seem serious because they’ve endured trauma are not mature. I’ve made that mistake before, about others & about myself. They’ve just had to move to a different timeline for survival & sometimes that means permanently damaging the ability to evolve in some areas. Like hitting the accelerator on a car that can’t take it.
You can’t grow up before your time. You can’t age on the fast track (ask a sommelier). Every experience opens up paths you didn’t expect, takes you down some you didn’t intend. Who is to say you’ll get there faster than others? Or that if you do, you didn’t miss something that could have changed your life for the better?
Maybe maturity is realising that it’s just a word & time is just an idea.
This is part of my series titled Midlife Pandemic, where I look back at the internal shifts, my wrong turns & my healing. I asked my Instagram followers to help me think through this with a series of questions. I’d also love to hear your answers to any or all of the questions so post them in the comments!
- What was a milestone age in your life and why?
- Tell me about a big disappointment and how you dealt with it.
- Is there something in your life you regret & how has it impacted your life?
- When did you start caring for yourself and how?
- Self-worth. An incident or time in your life that impacted it. Tell me.
- Where have you hidden yourself?
- Tell me a time you surprised yourself with how well you’ve been able to cope.
- What has been the best age for you to have been so far & why?
Tonight I go Live on Instagram at 10PM IST with my friend Rohan Babu to talk about the same. You are welcome to join our conversation or check out the recording later on my IGTV.