Friday, 29 July 2011

How to be mature

The idea of maturity, as in being a mature adult, is a highly dubious one, especially when it implies giving things up or toning things down.

If behaving in a certain way makes you feel good or adds to your enjoyment of life, why should it have to be toned down? So other people feel more "comfortable"? So you don't look "ridiculous"? Phooey. Don't listen to such mean-minded nonsense.

And what are we supposed to rein in or do away with anyway?

Mature adults, it seems, should have "normal" hobbies i.e. ones that other people can understand, like gardening or knitting. No eccentric interests like collecting pepper grinders or making the Taj Mahal out of matchsticks.

You should never be too enthusiastic or gushing about anything, as it's "childish". Your appreciation should always be restrained and thoughtful, suggesting some subtle dimension of pleasure (whatever that might be).

You shouldn't wear clothes that are too flamboyant or eye-catching. No bright colours, no miniskirts, no budgie-smugglers, nothing too tight or too scanty. You should blend in with your surroundings and dress "modestly".

You should always be polite and inoffensive. Keep a lid on those controversial opinions about Bible-bashers or baby-boomers or drunken louts. Maintain a neutral atmosphere, however artificial and strained.

But why should we always suppress our natural tastes and responses in the name of being "mature"? Which means what exactly? Responsible? Sensible? Well-behaved? We can be all those things without turning ourselves into strait-laced old farts.

Maturity? Bah, humbug.

33 comments:

kylie said...

i behave "immaturely" all the time and it seems to be getting worse!
i do lots of silly things just for my own amusement or that of the people around me (mostly the kids)

the truth is i cant live if i dont laugh and i dont much care how i get it to happen.

as a good blogging mate of mine said recently we are "a long time dead"

Scarlet Blue said...

Wibble Wibble.
Sx

Nick said...

Kylie - Oh I know, you've always been the misbehaving one! I agree, doing something silly for the sheer fun of it is good for us. So yah sucks boo!

Nick said...

Scarlet - If I'm not mistaken, those are the first two words of the famous poem "Dead or Alive" by Archie Duvet. The exact meaning of "wibble wibble" is still hotly disputed 17 years after his death.

Macy said...

We behave mainly to save our kids from dying of embarrassment...We have to be super nice because it's them choosing the old folk's home....

Nick said...

Macy - Fortunately I have no kids to embarrass, though there's still the question of what the neighbours might think. As for getting me into an old folks' home, they'll have to drag me in kicking and screaming....

secret agent woman said...

I actually enjoy embarrassing my kids. It's great sport:
http://undergroundagent.blogspot.com/2007/08/how-to-drive-your-teenager-crazy-in-8.html

Leah said...

Nick, this is a very reassuring post indeed! Thank you for writing it, and I most certainly agree.

Grannymar said...

Maturity is for cheese and wine!

Nick said...

Secret Agent - That was a brilliant post. What a shame I don't have any teenage kids to try those tricks out on!

Leah - Very glad you're reassured. I do get the sense you're frequently "immature" in all sorts of ways. And why not?

Grannymar - Hear, hear. And for old and majestic oak trees.

Roses said...

Boy is under strict instructions: should he see me doing a jigsaw puzzle in a conservatory, he is to sneak into my bedroom and plant a pillow firmly on my face.

I'm just beginning to get hang of Living this Life of mine, why the fuck would I want to turn it down now? Now is the time to turn it up!

PS. I'm still smirking at budgie smugglers.

Rummuser said...

Nick, by now of course, you would have gathered that I have never been accused of being mature! I have a long way to reach that stage.

Nick said...

Roses - Excellent concept. I shall instruct all my loved ones to do the same. Once I'm reduced to jigsaw puzzles, I'm in serious trouble.

Ramana - Ah yes, you're another expert in growing old disgracefully. Maturity sucks, I say.

nursemyra said...

I guess it's time for me to dispense with the corsets then

Nick said...

Myra - Oh no, don't do that, they're so thrilling to an excitable old gent like myself.

Jenny Woolf said...

Interesting - I emerged last year from writing a biography of Lewis Carroll and these were the sort of things that held him in and tied him down - in 1860! Iwonder if it is a specially British thing or whether all that stuff about national characteristics has some truth in it :)

Baino said...

Lot of like minds here methinks. I might be ageing but I can stay immature for ever.

John Gray said...

mentally I am as old as my socks

Nick said...

Jenny - I think it's a very British thing, all this self-restraint and horror of "making a fool of yourself". People in other countries are much less inhibited.

Baino - Here here. I'm permanently in a state of arrested development.

John - Sounds good. As long as they're not the first socks your mum ever bought you....

Wisewebwoman said...

Best definition I ever heard of maturity is:
The ability to defer gratification.
I'm still working on it.
XO
WWW

Megan said...

I think one of the things about being mature is the ability to behave 'immaturely' without feeling one has to apologize for it.

When I was younger I was so concerned about being 'cool' I sometimes forgot to have fun. As I've matured, I've relaxed quite a bit.

Princess said...

Here Here! Silly hats all around!

Nick said...

www - The trouble with deferred gratification is that something unpredictable might intervene and it becomes non-gratification. Take your pleasure while you have the chance!

Megan - A good definition. In other words, just be yourself and stop worrying about "what other people think".

Princess - Indeed. Everyone should wear a jester's hat with a very jingly bell on Fridays.

speccy said...

Nick, I can't imagine you as a strait laced old fart. I'm trying really hard not to imagine the budgie smugglers ;)

Nick said...

Speccy - No, strait laced old fart I am not. Perpetual fly in the ointment more like. And kindly keep your eyes off my budgie smugglers.

Liz said...

When we were on the beach on Saturday I said to Husband, 'Don't you feel the slightest desire to skip and polka in the sea?'
'No. But you go ahead.'

I can't wait to teach GrandDaughter how to gallop.

Nick said...

Liz - Beaches are good places to run amok. None of your usual friends and acquaintances will be around to watch you acting like a five year old.

wendy house said...

Maybe the Ministry of Silly Walks was such a silly idea it was profoundly on-track. What do the government give us? Department for Culture, Media and Sport. They seem to have missed the creative opportunity and qunitessentially Britishness by being way too sensible.

Nick said...

Wendy - Instead of the Ministry of Silly Walks we just have the Ministry of Silly Policies times twenty. Is the DCMS way too sensible? I'm not sure what it actually does apart from bringing us the incredibly expensive Olympics 2012.

e said...

Nick, I've wondered but never asked: What led to your disillusion with London?

Nick said...

e - Goodness, that's a long story. I think I'd better email you the answer to that!

Kate said...

I like to think of it as second childhood - but I don't think I outgrew the first one....

Nick said...

Kate - If second childhood means still seeing things with new eyes and with a sense of excitement and curiosity, I'm all in favour of that.