Maturity, to many, is ultimately the realization that there’s a world outside of yourself. Sometimes that outside reality can be sharply different from what we think it is, which prompts a range of reactions from slight annoyance to nervous breakdowns.
Hmm…but assuming we keep our sanity, there’s something to be said about integrating different viewpoints into ourselves. We become more whole, more rounded, even a bit more dynamic. Yet, this idea can seem hard to implement for certain people. Why?
Well, if you’re like me, there are probably huge aspects of yourself that are not the “ideal” according to our western society. For a culture that appreciates intelligence and creativity, there is not always a market for what usually accompanies those qualities, like a temperament that is more quiet, reflective, observant, and sensitive. Although the members of our society might have a lot to contribute when it comes to art, music, writing, even relationships, they sometimes receive a lot of flak for not being more outgoing, more quick-on-their-toes in conversations, more talkative and outwardly energetic.
Have you noticed that?
So, of course, here comes the “counter-culture” with their blaring horns, telling us ‘to be proud of your introversion’, and ‘don’t let anyone change you.’ And that’s good, trying to give people self-esteem when society doesn’t really value them. Yet, it can cause people to get locked in certain behaviors and stereotypes when they can learn a lot from the other side of the table.
This is maturity, people. When you can be proud by who you are, and still realize that your dominant personality can be improved and modified by it’s complete opposite. Within reason, of course.
I began thinking a lot about this when I sat with my younger sister one day. She was watching that abhorrent reality show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” (trust me, this is a rare time that I will mention such pop nonsense). Quite innocently, she mentioned to me that our family reminded us of them, because they were all sisters and there are four sisters in my family. Seeing that my sister is a bit of a diva, I realized that she was more impressed with their fashion sense than anything else, but I protested that there had to be better role models for us.
I would say, we are more like Jane Austen’s Bennets. Elizabeth Bennet, in particular, drew my attention. What a literary marvel she is! She is not an unattractive woman, but most of the emphasis rests on her personality, her intelligence, her wit, her understanding…her humor. She was definitely an extrovert.
Now, before my male readers go running for the hills at mention of the Kardashians and the Bennets, the point is the power literary role models can have for us. These are well-written characters who possess some pertinent aspects that we ourselves are lacking.
I don’t know, the last couple of years of my life have been tough. Sometimes, you enter a period of your life when everything seems to be falling apart and you have no idea of who you are and what you should do. Still, I think a bit of humor, a bit of stubbornness, could’ve really helped me. I tend to take things a bit too seriously, but even the most serious issues in the world can be lightened by a playful attitude, an inner confidence that everything is going to be alright. I thought of Elizabeth Bennet. What would she do? Probably laugh and dig her heels in the ground.
Maturity: realizing that sometimes the way you handle things is not always the best way, then trying something new.
So, I try to inject a bit of humor in every situation now. I try not to take things so seriously. I don’t romanticize the ‘brooding artist’ bit as much anymore. Life should be enjoyed every now and then. That’s what I learned from Ms. Elizabeth Bennet. She was like a doctor, evaluating exactly what was wrong with my outlook on life and prescribing a cure.
Is there any literary character that you admire even though you found they were your complete opposite?