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  1. #1
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    Default Consequences of Perpetual Adolescence?

    This is a concept that's been forming in my mind for a while, but I couldn't find words to explain the feelings I've been having.

    Tonight it came to me as I was looking through Facebook updates. I was noting the posts of a younger work acquaintance, someone I worked with about 5 years ago. She was posting pics of her cat in the bathtub, her dog looking at her quizzically, her first pumpkin for Hallowe'en (one of many she carved) and the smiley-face cookies she recently made, decorated with pink and blue icing. Her touch-frisbee-team just won their league. It then dawned on me that this woman is 30 years old.

    30.

    It was at that moment that the phrase above came to my mind - it was like I was looking at someone in a state of perpetual adolescence. Not really a child, but imo not really grown-up.

    So I googled the phrase, and naturally, it's not a new idea. But I got some interesting reads from looking around. Here's a link with some interesting thoughts ...

    The greatest sins, Santayana thought, are those that set out to strangle human nature. This is of course what is being done in cultivating perpetual adolescence, while putting off maturity for as long as possible. Maturity provides a more articulated sense of the ebb and flow, the ups and downs, of life, a more subtly reticulated graph of human possibility. Above all, it values a clear and fit conception of reality. Maturity is ever cognizant that the clock is running, life is finite, and among the greatest mistakes is to believe otherwise. Maturity doesn't exclude playfulness or high humor. Far from it. The mature understand that the bitterest joke of all is that the quickest way to grow old lies in the hopeless attempt to stay forever young.
    ~http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-215_162-605169.html

    The questions this article poses are:

    And yet what is so wrong about any of this? If one wants to dress like a kid, spin around the office on a scooter, not make up one's mind about what work one wants to do until one is 40, be noncommittal in one's relationships -- what, really, are the consequences? I happen to think that the consequences are genuine, and fairly serious.
    What do you think the consequences are? Do you think there are any?

    Thoughts are welcome - I'm looking to learn more about everyone's perspectives.

    eta: I should add too - do you even think this is a "thing"?
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt


    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  2. #2
    Step into my office. Luv Deluxe's Avatar
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    I'll start with the obvious: maturity means different things for different people. It's quite possible to be simultaneously youthful yet wise, open-minded and discerning; I frequently get that sort of feedback from the people in my life. My 50-year-old hairdresser talks to me as candidly as she would one of her peers, often commenting on how she sometimes forgets my age. At the same time, my coworkers thought I was about four years younger than I actually am, supposedly owing to a combination of outward appearance and, well...my personality.

    For what it's worth, I'm 25. I recall going out for drinks with my coworkers some Sunday night last November, after Thanksgiving. One of them turned to me and asked, "So, you just turned 21, right?" Nope. Just on the inside.

    I'm mature, and not mature at all. I party downtown a lot, enjoy spending as much as I do earning, and have zero interest in settling down or starting a family. But I've also been through a lot in my life, learned a great deal from those experiences, and do my best to navigate contemporary problems with a certain finesse and skill that I'm certain I would not have developed otherwise - a form of maturity that I don't often see in others my own age.

    @PeaceBaby - Maturity is somewhat subjective. While I kinda see what you're getting at with this girl on Facebook, the article you found seems a little harsh. "A clear and fit conception of reality" - what is that, exactly? Most of us probably think we have it, but my perspectives are going to be vastly different from the guy sitting next to me, and I know that. If I'm afraid of dating and this guy thinks it's the only way to go, whose conception of reality is "clear and fit," if either of them? Furthermore, what does dressing young and being noncommittal in one's relationships have to do with this apparently objective "clear and fit" outlook on life? I'm only questioning the opinionated tone of the article you found - not trying to argue with you!

    And then we have this:
    Maturity is ever cognizant that the clock is running, life is finite, and among the greatest mistakes is to believe otherwise... The mature understand that the bitterest joke of all is that the quickest way to grow old lies in the hopeless attempt to stay forever young.
    What if is this is a natural inclination in one's personality? I could see how actively trying to "stay young" in order to maintain some delusional notion of popularity or connection to a nostalgic era in one's life could be a problem - that makes sense. Denial isn't pretty.

    But suppose you're just being yourself, wearing what you want and advancing through life at whatever pace you've decided is right for you. I do it, and I'm pretty happy. The only drawback I've encountered so far is real or imagined condescension from family members who've decided that I should get engaged and pregnant. When I wrinkle my nose and say, "Ew, gross!" I'm probably being immature, but I'm also being myself. I have never wanted children, and I don't foresee a change anytime soon. When I'm ninety - if I make it that far - I'll probably still dye my hair raspberry red. Because I don't care what anybody says - that shit is thoroughly awesome.

    I get really sad when I see people giving up and letting go of their inner children, and there's something to be said for those who feel real joy from the little things in life. Even if such little things are winning games in their recreational sports leagues and putting blue frosting on their cookies.

    I have a lot of adult friends who are athletes, artists, and musicians, and they're among my very favorite people to hang out with. They still share my vitality and enthusiasm, and spending time with them is very life-affirming.

    There's an interior design fad I've noticed a lot lately - tons of cute little suburban homes have the words, "Live, Laugh, Love" painted on the living room wall, like the residents of these houses actually need to be reminded to do that. Back when Facebook had quotes below profile pictures, "Live each day like it's your last!" and "Carpe diem" were mantras I saw frequently. However, I don't think people walk the walk as much as they'd like to imagine they do. When I booked a last-minute flight back to Chicago for the Cup this summer (and decided to stay in a downtown tower on top of that), I was met with more than a few raised eyebrows. Questions like, "How much are you spending?!" were pretty common. I never answered them, and was kind of baffled that anybody wouldn't seize an opportunity like that (as long as they had the means to).

    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post
    What do you think the consequences are? Do you think there are any?
    I get that problems can arise for someone if (s)he can't choose or find an occupation that makes him/her happy. A good career is quite fulfilling. If someone can't decide or accept a position for any length of time, lack of productivity and income can cause depression and dependencies on other people. Nonetheless, such deep-rooted dissatisfaction seems like it would have other causes - probably a bit more than absence of maturity alone.

    As far as being noncommittal in one's relationships goes? In my opinion, the pressure to commit seems to be largely societal and should really only concern the individuals involved. Provided that all parties are up front and honest about their expectations...well, no harm, no foul. Date around when you're forty if you want to.

    TL;DR - Do whatever makes you happy, as long as you're not hurting anybody. The article quoted sounds more applicable to midlife crises, not inherent personality traits or amorphous states of maturity.
    AMERICAN TRASH
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  3. #3
    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post
    This is a concept that's been forming in my mind for a while, but I couldn't find words to explain the feelings I've been having.

    Tonight it came to me as I was looking through Facebook updates. I was noting the posts of a younger work acquaintance, someone I worked with about 5 years ago. She was posting pics of her cat in the bathtub, her dog looking at her quizzically, her first pumpkin for Hallowe'en (one of many she carved) and the smiley-face cookies she recently made, decorated with pink and blue icing. Her touch-frisbee-team just won their league. It then dawned on me that this woman is 30 years old.

    30.

    It was at that moment that the phrase above came to my mind - it was like I was looking at someone in a state of perpetual adolescence. Not really a child, but imo not really grown-up.
    Those things that you mention do not necessarily equate to a lack of maturity. The individual could simply have some frivolous hobbies. I would say actively avoiding taking control of ones life and putting off difficult decisions can be a problem, but that isn't really related in any way to decorating cookies or taking photos of a cute pup.

    Unless you are saying it is because she isn't married/a parent...?
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

  4. #4
    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    It's kinda arrogant to dismiss other people's life choices when you don't even really know their story.
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

  5. #5
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    Hm... I sort of see my artsy side in your coworker... I love those sorts of silly artistic things and pick-up sports... but maybe there are more harmful elements to her behavior that aren't being conveyed here.

    I want to define maturity though... not as moving quickly through life... but in terms of its psychological definition of "the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner". It includes both fluid awareness and crystallized knowledge.

    I don't think there's a problem with a lack of maturity insofar as just being immature, but I do think issues arise when a person who is not mature enough tries to take on a role that requires a higher degree of maturity. I think of my friend who was kicked out of the house after she got pregnant at 17 and now is a full-time working mom but still often acts like a child... my coworker who doesn't have any desire to work but got her job via her mom, and slacks off and makes even more work for our department... my friend who, married for several years and with a 1.5-year-old daughter, decided to separate with her husband on the grounds that she resents him wanting her to stay at home with him and the baby at night instead of going out and partying with her single male friends.

    What happens in these situations is the maturity mismatch both prevents the person from being able to succeed and hurts others in its wake.

    As for the article... it seems to me like yet another complaint from a person of an older generation pointing a finger at younger people who, forgive the colloquialism, but, "play too much". I do think adolescence has been extended, but I see it as more of a result of the economic shifts from prosperity in the 80s to the recession now as the children born and raised in prosperity, expecting exciting careers and a wide open future, are entering the workforce and discovering a lack of jobs and a lot more obstacles to get to the picture of success that was painted for them in their childhoods. The result is passivity, because it's hard to be fired up when you feel like something promised to you has been taken away.

  6. #6
    Senior Member danseen's Avatar
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    I think the OP should mind her business and not be an uptight busy body.

    It's common knowledge that maturity is subjective.

  7. #7
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    Thanks for your thoughts AC!

    Quote Originally Posted by AntiheroComplex View Post
    I'll start with the obvious: maturity means different things for different people.
    Agreed. What are the commonalities though of maturity - are there any anymore? Is it about a level of commitment? Or non-commitment? Or commitment to self?

    While I kinda see what you're getting at with this girl on Facebook, the article you found seems a little harsh.
    Agreed. It doesn't represent my opinion per se. But it says things in a polarized way that induces further thought. That's what I want to explore, flesh things out more.

    But suppose you're just being yourself, wearing what you want and advancing through life at whatever pace you've decided is right for you. ... When I'm ninety - if I make it that far - I'll probably still dye my hair raspberry red. Because I don't care what anybody says - that shit is thoroughly awesome.
    You do recognize though that the reason you think it is awesome is because of your cultural context? The cultural significance we currently place on the expression and manifestation of individualism? Just like if/when I make it to 90 there will be a lot of people listening to 80's music, if/when you make it to 90, there will be I guess a whole bunch of geriatric people with raspberry red hair.

    Everything becomes an anachronism at some point.

    I get really sad when I see people giving up and letting go of their inner children, and there's something to be said for those who feel real joy from the little things in life. Even if such little things are winning games in their recreational sports leagues and putting blue frosting on their cookies.
    I find this fascinating. What does it look like when someone lets go of their inner child? Do they stop making cookies? Are those the things we are supposed to be doing to nurture that inner child? Why those things?

    Thanks for helping me explore more!
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt


    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  8. #8
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    Those things that you mention do not necessarily equate to a lack of maturity. The individual could simply have some frivolous hobbies. I would say actively avoiding taking control of ones life and putting off difficult decisions can be a problem, but that isn't really related in any way to decorating cookies or taking photos of a cute pup.

    Unless you are saying it is because she isn't married/a parent...?
    Agreed. I have silly hobbies too, and post pics of that stuff. For this girl, it's about more than that, and in a way I cannot fully explain, and that's what I'm trying to wrap some context around. What is it about this person that provokes those thoughts? And does it define wider trends? And what implications surround those trends?

    And is it about kids ... no, not specifically.

    Although it was interesting this weekend to get together with friends and family for our 25th wedding anniversary, and there's a couple who, like us, celebrated their 25th this year too. They don't have kids and that was a conscious choice on their part (a choice I respect, btw.) We are different in many ways though and I am sure that having kids does define some of that. There is something that does change your outlook ... I'll have to give that more thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    It's kinda arrogant to dismiss other people's life choices when you don't even really know their story.
    Agreed. I'm not judging the life choices (personally, I like smiley-face cookies) ... there's something about the aggregation over time that gets my attention. That's what I want to explore.

    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    Hm... I sort of see my artsy side in your coworker... I love those sorts of silly artistic things and pick-up sports... but maybe there are more harmful elements to her behavior that aren't being conveyed here.
    Well, yes, for brevity I'm not fleshing this out with specifics, but did put in the posts that caused a thought to gel on being "grown-up" and what it means to be "grown-up".

    A little more googling on my end has found the phrase "extended adolescence" is a more common way of describing this as a phenomenon.

    I do think issues arise when a person who is not mature enough tries to take on a role that requires a higher degree of maturity. **examples**

    What happens in these situations is the maturity mismatch both prevents the person from being able to succeed and hurts others in its wake.
    Agreed. Good examples.

    As for the article... it seems to me like yet another complaint from a person of an older generation pointing a finger at younger people who, forgive the colloquialism, but, "play too much". I do think adolescence has been extended, but I see it as more of a result of the economic shifts from prosperity in the 80s to the recession now as the children born and raised in prosperity, expecting exciting careers and a wide open future, are entering the workforce and discovering a lack of jobs and a lot more obstacles to get to the picture of success that was painted for them in their childhoods. The result is passivity, because it's hard to be fired up when you feel like something promised to you has been taken away.
    Yes, I agree with that too. The person writing it is probably 20 years older than me, and the age gap is recognizable. My generation, too, bought into that paradigm btw. It's difficult when you see things are not the same for you as for your parents, and I see my own kids facing unique challenges of their generation now too.

    Quote Originally Posted by danseen View Post
    I think the OP should mind her business and not be an uptight busy body.

    It's common knowledge that maturity is subjective.
    Aww, you're cute. Of course maturity is subjective. Let's explore the concept of extended adolescence - what can you add to the discussion here? Do you even think there's such a thing?
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt


    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  9. #9
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    Hmm, doing some more quick googling ... the concept of "emerging adulthood" vs "extended adolescence" ... will digest some of that and be back. In the meantime, do share your thoughts!
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt


    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  10. #10
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    I think the concept of extended adolescence is something that is ongoing at the moment. When I look at my life's benchmarks of normal life achievement compared to my parents' generation, it's just hilariously off-kilter. And even worse if I compare it to my grandparents' generation.

    Me at 16 getting my first job because I wanted money to buy music.
    My dad at 15 getting his first job so that he could afford to go to college.
    My grandfather at 12 getting his first job so he could help his parents feed their large family in the depression.

    etc.

    My POV could be skewed as I am someone who likes living in the fantastical magical realm of wherever my brain is, and I tend to avoid large pockets of reality and realism if I can. But it seems like there is a lot of help in this arena for distractions in the form of endless entertainments.

    I've had to admit to myself that some of my life choices have been made with the idea that I don't HAVE to choose and commit... that I can hold all the ideas and possibilities in my hands forever.

    But then I talk to my frazzled stay at home mom of 2 friend and I think oh hells to the no. I like staying up until 3 am to read whatever book I want to, or play a video game, or watch an entire season of a tv show in one weekend while eating pizza and then doing it all over again the next weekend because AMGS season 2, etc.

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