I want to be wise. And you know how you get wise? By screwing up.
— Myra McEntire
My mother always told me, “With age comes wisdom.” While she had a point, she should have also said, “With hardship comes even more wisdom.”
Maybe the two are intertwined. Maybe hardship happens because of age, and wisdom follows. Either way, it’s important to note that no one matures without a hefty amount of psychological scarring.
Whether it’s a breakup that almost killed you, an experience that almost broke you or a lifelong struggle that threw you over and over again, all of those hardships carried meaning.
The things that almost destroyed you made you into who you are today. If you’ve been through hell, you’ve also seen the light at the end of the tunnel.
When people say that “you’ll understand when you’re older,” don’t they mean that “you’ll understand when the same thing has happened to you”? You need a variety of life lessons before you can become the wise, respectable adult you’ve been told you’ll become.
According to an article in Psychology Today by Tim Elmore, there are seven signs that indicate when a child has reached maturity. This is his list, but I’m adding exactly why they evolve from hardship — not age.
Mature people “can keep long-term commitments”… because they’ve been stood up.
Being flaked on isn’t as damaging as other things. But it’s annoying enough to teach you not to flake on people in return.
Adults are better than teenagers about following through with plans because they’ve been flaked on enough to know that’s not how you get through life. To pass on the good karma, stop canceling on your friends, and suck it up.
Mature people “are unshaken by flattery or criticism” … because they’ve been deceived.
When you’ve experienced the moves of a player, you know what to look for next time you’re getting played. When you’ve seen flattery used for evil, you understand how shallow it is.
It takes only that one time — that one awful heartbreak — to teach us not every relationship is safe and not every person is honest. It doesn’t stop us from dating, but it keeps us away from insincere compliments.
Mature people “possess a spirit of humility”… because they’ve been knocked down.
Humility comes from having life beat the bullshit out of you. When you’ve experienced your darkest days, your humility shines through on your brightest days.
The most humble people are often the ones with the most horrible pasts. They’re the ones who are the most giving because they’ve received the least. You can guide someone through the dark only when you’ve stumbled around in it yourself.
Mature people’s “decisions are based on character, not feelings”… because they’ve built up virtue.
Character comes from developing values, and your values form after you’ve faced obstacles. Every sh*tty experience you’ve ever had has been another brick added to the foundation of your character.
It may not seem like it, but when you’re forced to do things you don’t want to do, you’re building character. You become stronger and more capable than you were yesterday.
Mature people “express gratitude consistently”… because they know why they’re thankful.
People develop gratitude when they’ve had to ask for help in the past. You can’t learn to be gracious until you’ve been forced to ask for a hand.
When you’ve experienced tough times, you know what it’s like to need others. Therefore, you appreciate anything you’re given. If you’ve never had to ask for help, you’ve never understood the value of a “thank you.”
Mature people “know how to prioritize others before themselves”… because they’ve been put second.
Empathy comes from hardship. People who have been kicked around or considered to be afterthoughts know the pain and the harm that comes from this.
Through these experiences, they’ve learned how not to treat people. If you can put yourself in other people’s shoes, you’re less likely to step on them. The people who have endured the most are almost always the most willing to understand.
Mature people “seek wisdom before acting”… because they know what will happen if they don’t.
Many people with damaged histories are wise enough to know they played a role in their pain. Because of their naïveté, youth and plain bad judgment, they’ve seen what harm they can cause themselves.
Once you’ve screwed yourself over often enough, you develop habits to keep yourself from doing it again. Many of those habits have to do with thinking before you act.
If you’ve been damaged, you’ve probably developed a lot of common sense. You’ve protected yourself against future pain.