During my graduation ceremony from Sierra College, one of the key speakers made a profound impact on me. I’m sad to say I don’t remember her name, but her words and emotion I will never forget. It was one of those moments when you are unexpectedly pulled out of the mundane and feel intimately connected to another soul – a complete stranger. She was an older lady with big, beautiful, brown hair and dark sunglasses on. She stood at the podium telling us about an article she had read forty years ago that was so insightful and pertinent and every so often through the years the article would resurface, once again making her realize how timeless this piece was and how it always seemed to fit in her life and those around her. She decided this was the gem she would share with the graduating class.
I sat there in my crimson robe and cap listening to her speech, wondering if she was going to be one of the good storytellers that sunny, bright afternoon. She said it was about maturity. As she recited the words I found myself surprised at the depth and span of the meaning of maturity. She was right; the article was extremely good, but that was not what compelled me to write about this today. When she finished the prose she added her own thoughts on it, and finished with “while there are many important things to say during your life, the most important thing you’ll ever say is…” Suddenly my heart choked up into my throat. A wave of pure emotion coursed through my whole body. She stood at the podium trying to get her message out, but the words would not come. Raw emotion emanated from her. We all sat motionless desperately waiting for the answer. Finally after what felt like an eternity, she found her voice though trembling lips. It was soft and vulnerable, yet full of courage and strength. She said “I love you.” Tears streamed down my face as I felt completely ripped open – naked in the truth. Nothing more was said and she sat down hurriedly as if that last utterance took everything she had. These were not mere words of wisdom that she shared, she gave a true gift from the heart that day. To this day I am still unable to recollect the experience without tears coming to my eyes, and I am grateful.
And now, here is the article:
What is Maturity? – By Ann Landers
1. Maturity is many things. First, it is the ability to base a judgment on the big picture-The Long Haul. It means being able to pass up the fun for the minute and select the cause of action that will pay off later. One of the characteristics of infancy is the I-want-it-now approach. Grown-up people are able to wait.
2. Maturity is the ability to stick with a project or situation until it is finished. The person who is constantly changing jobs, changing friends and changing mates is immature. Everything seems to turn sour after a while.
3. Maturity is the ability to face unpleasantness, frustration, discomfort and defeat without complaint or collapse. The mature person knows he can’t have everything his own way. Nobody wins ’em all. He is able to defer to circumstances, other people — and time.
4. Maturity means doing what is expected of you, and this means being dependable. It means keeping your word. Bound in with dependability is personal integrity. Do you mean what you say—and say what you mean?
5. The world is filled with people who can’t be counted on. They are never around in a crisis. They break promises and substitute alibis for performance. They show up late— or not at all. Their lives are a maze of unfinished business. Such behavior suggests a lack of self-discipline—which is a large part of maturity.
6. Maturity is the ability to make a decision and stick with it, riding out storms that may follow. This requires clear thinking. And courage to stand by your position once you’ve taken it.
7. Immature people spend a lifetime exploring possibility and then doing nothing. Action requires courage. And courage means maturity.
8. Maturity is the ability to harness your abilities and your energies and do more than is expected. The mature person refuses to settle for mediocrity. He would rather aim high and miss the mark, than aim low—and make it.