What is 'Situational Maturity' and what is so fascinating about it?
Sometimes we may meet a young person in his or her teens and be impressed by the level of their mental and professional maturity. They act and think like they are much older than their actual age, they are responsible, attentive, respectful, motivated, and future focused. They know exactly what they want from life at such an early age and are taking determined and careful thought-through steps to reach their personal and professional goals and objectives. Then, we meet another young person of the same age and realize that not only do they not think about or plan their future, but they also seem to be lost in their present with their attention completely consumed by activities that do not result in setting them up for success and those that do not contribute positively to their present. Their goal is to have fun daily and relying on others to provide for them and to create the lifestyle that they want and expect to receive, without putting any effort in themselves.
So, how are some young children are so responsible, future-focused, hard-working and driven by the strong desire to success in life, when others tent to only focus on fulfillment of their immediate wants and needs by others in the present without any thoughts or desire of setting goals and actually taking steps on their own to build the future they hope to have when they grow up?
I think the answer to this question, in my opinion, lies in what I call – ‘Situational Maturity.’ Situational Maturity is when a young child finds themselves in the environment where they do not have any choice but to mature quickly and grow up ahead of their actual age. For example, I believe that I have experienced a Situational Maturity when my family immigrated to the United States from Ukraine when I was just 14 years of age and did not speak a single word of English. Instead of doing what most 14 year old’s do at that age – play video games, hand out with friends, watch tv - I had to quickly learn English language in order to go to school, learn, and to graduate in three short years, and to help my family to navigate a completely new lifestyle in the U.S. and daily complexities of life. I also had to work in order to afford the things that I wanted and needed as a teenager in High School, things that my peers received by simply asking their parents to buy for them. Therefore, I had to grow up and mature quickly, learn everything I could fast, and ensure that my actions paved the way for an adult life after school by focusing on my own personal and professional growth and development. Situation that I was placed in made me look at daily life as many adults do, life filled with goals, objections, commitments, and responsibilities.
Another example of Situational Maturity that I can think of is being raised in a country with a farm or livestock to care for. There is certain set of responsibilities that comes with growing up in such environment – getting up very early in the morning in order to feed the chickens, horses, cows, pigs, etc., help parents to take care of the property, making sure that everything functions as it should, and either take a school bus or walk to school. Then, after school, same set of responsibilities one must do the homework and go to sleep. I have been there and can say that such experience creates an opportunity for a young teenager to appreciate the complexity and importance of daily routine, and reliance of others on you for help and support. Once again, a young himself or herself in a situation where they go through mental maturity phase much faster and learn that life is filled with demanding work and responsibilities that cannot be ignored.
Thus, if you meet a young individual who acts and thinks in a more mature manner in comparison to his or her peers, you may be meeting with someone who has experienced a Situational Maturity in their life while growing up. So, take some time to inquire and learn about their story, because, in most cases you will be amazed and inspired by their unique life experiences and accomplishments.