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How does one measure maturity? Is it through the grasp of adult responsibilities? Is it through the acquisition of domestic virtues, once sneered upon, but now often glorified as essential to claiming an independent life?

Over the last year or so I’ve come to discover an important element of maturity is humility. Whether it is at home or the workplace, the acceptance of our intrinsic weaknesses is essential to growth. Acceptance of our limitations is not, and should not, be mistaken as simply giving up when obstacles appear impossible to hurdle. Humility is understanding we cannot always be in control.

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People who know me personally have often commented on how uptight I can be. I like things planned out, and I hesitate to take risks because I prefer to know the outcomes. Indeed, many of my past pursuits could be labelled as calculated, pragmatic, or safe. My unpleasant experiences when it came to risks and leaps of faith kept me biased towards choices that were, at the very least, uncertain. So when I found myself in a difficult and uncertain situation, one where I had little to no control, I fled from the them, choosing to settle for fatalism or self-pity, often dragging with me people I loved as I whined and complained about my poor decisions, blatantly disregarding personal accountability to elicit sympathy.

Luckily, the people I love are men and women who have long acquired maturity through self-mastery. Their personal struggles shaped them to become responsible individuals capable of making practical decisions when necessary, and take huge leaps into the unknown based on their instinct or even guided by their adherence to a higher power. While I would be the first to admit I’m not a very spiritual person, the ability to let go of control is something I’m slowly learning.

The work I have right now has become the perfect groundwork for me to plant seeds of maturity. Surrounded by men and women who are headstrong and dedicated, I found a fertile plain where I could grow and develop character. Gone were my impulse decisions. Gone were the evasions. In place of my love for comfort is an appreciation for the uncertain. And while before I would have been quick to adhere to any sort of science that could explain my fate, I am now more inclined to revel in the mystery of the moment, the unexpectedness of a situation, and the newfound responsibility I am more comfortable to claim.

Facing problems on a daily basis has compelled to be creative and resourceful in my approach. Solutions exist but it can only be applied if one is willing to go the extra mile, take a step one’s comfort zone. Yes, there are repercussions and my reputation, as a result, has become increasingly at stake. But this character-building component of my job – facing all kinds of people with their almost schizophrenic personalities, and immersing myself in the pressure of their expectations – does more good than the stress which accompanies it.

Maturity, after all, is ability acquired when one is willing to accept variables in life are not always controllable; when one is ready to be humbled by the moment. A certain degree of detachment must necessarily accompany it, in order to live fully and fruitfully, even if it comes at discomforting cost. Like the age old saying goes, “no pain, no gain.” Whatever complications I find myself entangled in, I am now more confident I can unknot them, not simply because I have pushed my limits, but mostly since I am less likely to think so proud of myself as never to settle for suffering.

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