College is a transitional period between childhood and adulthood. As college students we are definitely no longer children, but we are not quite at the point where we feel like mature adults. For a long time I thought that maturity could be measured by a person’s ability to make their own decisions, and I definitely couldn’t make my own decisions when my parents were making the rules. It took me until I was in college to understand that being out from underneath my parents’ roof did not automatically make me an adult.
My mom likes to tell the story of the time when I was first learning to speak and I refused to call a bagel anything other than a nonsense word that I had made up. “Pierce, this is called a bagel,” she would say to me. I would reply, “No it’s not. It’s called a _____.” She would try to correct me and I would say, “I’m not going to call it a bagel, I’m going to call it what I want to call it.” She replied, “Well, you’re just going to be wrong.” If I had listened to her back then, I would have avoided sounding silly at school asking for a bagel using a word that no one had ever heard.
When my dad left me at Nyack with his car for the first time so that I could drive it home that weekend to visit, he asked me if I knew for sure how to get home. I assured him that I had been paying attention the other times that he picked me up from school. He told me to turn on the GPS and set it for home just in case. Thinking that I knew what I was doing, I left the GPS in the glove compartment and made my way to the Thruway. I missed my exit and was halfway upstate before calling my dad and asking how to get turned around. Yet again, trying to do my own thing and ignoring the good advice of my parents got me into unnecessary trouble. To this day my family cracks jokes about it every time I drive home from college.
It took me about eighteen years to realize this, but the mark of maturity is not being able to decide what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. Deciding your own course of action is something that everyone will have to do on countless occasions throughout their lives. Maturity is also not signaled by no longer needing to listen to what your parent or guardian says. As we grow, we learn to value the wisdom, experience, and advice of those whom are over us. The mark of maturity is recognizing that you are in control of your own life and, based on that knowledge, making decisions that will be the most beneficial and fulfilling for both your present and future. Thankfully there are people in our lives that have been making their own decisions for much longer than we have, and they will often be happy to weigh in on how we should make ours.