You Define Your Maturity, Not Your Age

It’s time we kill the maturity myth.

laughing couple Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

By Maura Vananzo

It’s time we question society’s idea that a certain number determines our maturity levels and our abilities. Young adults are a severely underestimated age group, and a large portion of this is due to the supposed relationship between maturity and age.

Frankly, I’m sick of my maturity and abilities being questioned because of my age. It’s time for a change.

Society has provided no specific rules involving maturity, no age where all of a sudden a person realizes their full potential and becomes a functioning member of society.

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Granted, some maturity does come with age. Nobody over six should be throwing temper tantrums in the middle of a Chuck E. Cheese, but when does age become irrelevant to a person’s maturity?

Neuroscience tells us that the brain is not fully matured until a person is 25, and for many, this means that a person cannot be labeled as a mature functioning adult until this age. Yeah, tell a 25-yea- old that they are a fully developed functioning adult and see how they respond.

I want to see a guideline that states: “Yes, for a person 18-24 it is okay to accidentally leave your car running while you’re in a restaurant (I’ve done that). But no, by the time you’re 25, this is not okay.”


I’ve heard way too often that teenagers specifically shouldn’t be trusted with big life decisions because they’re not fully matured. “How can you decide that now, your brain isn’t fully developed?”

If that’s the case, why am I deciding my supposed career path when I’m 18 years old? If I can be trusted with that at 18, I can obviously be trusted with tattooing my body! I’ll just get a whole bunch all over my neck, I’m sure my future self will hate me equally for both of these decisions anyways!

Young adults must also decide their future career path before they’re entrusted around alcohol. “Because you’re too immature to handle your alcohol at that age,” says the creepy 30-year-old dude at the local bar. We’re restricted to movies we can see, restricted from driving rental cars and drinks we can drink.

If age can’t determine a person’s maturity, what can? Our experiences, more than anything, have the ability to shape our maturity.

I’ve been raised by a single parent for the past few years and it taught me more about life than my supposed perfect childhood ever could.


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I’ve finally decided that I don’t want a normal nine-to-five job at the age of 20, and it’s the most mature decision I’ve ever made.

Eminem made up with his mom after all those horrible songs he wrote about her. But without his experience of having an absent father, would he understand his mom’s struggle as a single parent?

Or Miley Cyrus — she finally found her own voice and is embracing her strong personality. But is this really due to her age or her experiences? If Miley wasn’t forced into a Disney show in her early teen years, would she have felt such an urge to find her own voice?


The earlier a person moves out on their own, the earlier they learn the troubles of being a renter or homeowner. Any situation a person experiences is going to help their knowledge expand, and if they learn the right lesson from that experience, it will help them mature into a better person.

The belief that the younger generation isn’t mature enough to change the world or contribute something great to this world is a sad mistake of our abilities. Facebook, one of the biggest inventions in social media, was started by a college student.

No successful artist decided they were passionate about music, painting, acting or any other art form later in life. Their passion began young and drove them to greatness, and they were smart enough even as young adults to do what they had to do for success.

If this year’s World Cup taught us anything it’s that young people are running FIFA. Players who are still considered young adults, like Colombia’s James Rodriguez and Brazil’s Neymar, are representing their entire country while still in their early 20s.


Young people are becoming entrepreneurs, working full-time jobs to attend college, and starting non-profits that are changing the world, all while their brain is technically still “maturing.”

The day you decide you want to do what you love for the rest of your life, whether that’s at 20 or 40, you’re maturing.

People can experience maturity when they let past and future experiences form them into being better people. People are mature the minute they decide they’re in control of their thoughts and actions.

Society isn’t in control, and for the love of God, neither is your underdeveloped teenage brain. It’s time we kill the maturity myth.


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Maura Vananzo is a writer, former contributor to Unwritten, and a media supervisor from Baltimore, Maryland. She writes about self-esteem, lifestyle and travel topics. Visit her author profile for more of her work.