When I was younger, I remember thinking that adults must have all the answers.
The funny thing is, as your body ages it doesn’t necessarily mean your mind does too.
Growing up doesn’t automatically come with age. It comes from experience and the wisdom we gain from maturity.
So no matter how old you might be, here are some behaviors that show you’re growing as a person.
1) You take responsibility for yourself
Remember when you were a kid and you were getting told off for something?
Maybe you were quick to exclaim:
“It wasn’t me, he/she started it first!”
Blaming others is a quickly learned behavior that turns into a nasty habit if we’re not careful.
Sidestepping all responsibility can feel like a quick fix for avoiding criticism or condemnation. And not just from others, but from ourselves too.
Feelings of guilt and shame are uncomfortable to deal with. Finding justifications and excuses means we don’t have to have accountability.
But if we want to establish an honest and healthy relationship with ourselves and others, we need to have this level of self-awareness.
We must be mature and responsible enough to hold our hands up.
It’s a true sign of growth when you are able to take complete responsibility for your own feelings, thoughts, words, and actions.
Of course, a big part of that is being able to apologize when you screw up.
2) You say sorry…and mean it
Apologies can get stuck in your throat.
It’s not easy to hold your hands up and admit you’ve done wrong. It can require swallowing your pride and doing what is right.
Even if someone manages to say sorry, it’s not always with sincerity.
When you can wholeheartedly and unreservedly apologize to someone you may have let down or wronged, it shows some important things about your character:
- You care about the feelings of others
- You can objectively analyze yourself enough to recognize your own flaws
- You have the courage to admit fault rather than try to make excuses
That’s going to massively impact how well you maintain your relationships.
When we cannot heal from misunderstandings and fallouts, people’s trust and respect for us become damaged.
3) Life isn’t only about having a good time
Let me quickly clarify:
Because I’m all in favor of enjoying your life to the max.
But the truth is that when we start to grow up, our definition of what living a good life looks like also starts to change.
It isn’t about non-stop partying, getting lost in pleasant distractions, or purely selfish endeavors.
When we mature, we realize that we cannot always do whatever we want. We all have responsibilities that need attending to. We need to consider other people’s wants too.
A “good time” simply becomes more multifaceted.
- It’s about creating meaning
- It’s about trying to help others
- It’s about working hard for the things we want
- It’s about putting in the time and energy to reach our goals
Sure, we still want to have fun.
But we realize that real life has depth, and only living in the shallows means you’re missing out.
4) You can understand, acknowledge, and even (sometimes) manage your emotions
Ok, not ALL the time.
Because, hey, you’re not a robot.
We all can get swept away in the power of our feelings and lose a grip on them in the process. But you are growing up if you have gained the skill of noticing your emotions when they show up.
Not only that, but you dig deeper into them. You ask questions about what you are feeling and why.
That helps you to move through your emotions rather than get stuck in them. And that’s important.
Trying to push away the things we’re going through only leads to denial.
Extra Brownie points if you manage to not overly identify with your feelings.
You see them more as a passing wave and not a reflection of who you are. And that helps you to keep a healthy detachment from them.
5) You can stand on your own two feet
Independence does wonders for building your confidence and self-esteem. That can include everything from financial to emotional independence.
It’s the ultimate in self-responsibility because you’re not waiting for anyone else to come along and save you.
It’s a reflection of your self-belief. You know that you can go out into the world and be ok. You don’t have to cling to others to feel safe.
Of course, it’s okay to ask for help. We all need the support of others in our lives too. Close connections are vitally important to our well-being.
But whilst nobody is an island, self-reliance is the sign of growth. You’ve developed enough life skills to fend for yourself.
6) You are able to show some self-control
Put a whole chocolate cake in front of an eight-year-old and it’s fairly easy to predict what’s going to happen.
They’ll make themselves sick before realizing that there are limits to what they probably should eat.
Showing restraint is hard. Which is exactly why it only comes with maturity.
Sometimes we are called to look at the bigger picture and not give in to immediate temptation.
We’re asked to choose what is best for us and others in the long run. Often that involves turning our back on temptation in the present.
- You didn’t cheat on your partner, even though you had the chance
- You said no thanks to that second helping of ice cream
- You managed to haul your ass out of bed to go on a morning run
- You turned off Netflix to study for your exam
All these sorts of behaviors exhibit self-control.
7) What’s on the inside matters more to you than what’s on the outside
For most of us, high school is one big popularity contest.
It’s a cruel world for a teenager. You’re quickly judged on 1001 tiny (and often inconsequential) things — from the sneakers you wear to your hairstyle.
Friendship groups may even form based entirely on these sorts of shallow markers and not much more.
But when you no longer give a shit about looks and care far more about someone’s character, you’re clearly growing up as a person.
You’re not going to date a jerk, simply because they’re hot. That mean girl may be cute, but she doesn’t interest you because she’s fairly ugly on the inside.
Kindness, intelligence, humor, and empathy are how you select who is a good fit for you in life.
Maybe you are also able to apply this same logic to yourself. Despite all the consumerist and media pressure to look a certain way, you see through it all.
You realize that far from being just cliches, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder as well as being only skin deep.
8) You don’t let what other people think of you hold you back
This is a really tough one.
The truth is that we all care to a certain extent what people think about us. It’s perfectly natural.
We live together in societies and groups, and feeling left out hurts. So it makes sense that we want to be liked.
But when we care too much about what other people think, we can end up abandoning ourselves. We put the opinions, thoughts, needs, and wants of others over our own.
If you can outgrow people-pleasing tendencies then it’s a really big deal.
- You know how to say no to others without guilt
- You don’t go along with things simply because you’re scared of rocking the boat
- You don’t feel the need to hide your thoughts or opinions
- You are not easily swayed out of your dreams and goals by naysayers.
If there is something you want to do it matters more to you that you approve, rather than the unsolicited opinions of others.
9) You’re not quick to judge
One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve grown up is that things are far less black and white than I once thought them to be.
We start to realize that people and the entire world around us are pretty complicated.
In my younger years, I was a bit of a smart-ass. Looking back, I sort of thought I knew everything. This over-self-assurance can be a hallmark of youth.
Now that I’m much older, I’ve realized I know pretty much nothing. Rather than that being a bad thing, it’s actually good.
Because I came to see that my own opinions, experiences, beliefs, and ideas are merely a snapshot.
There are endless realities and possibilities that could be true and correct. Who am I to say they are false?
Rather than judge other people for their differences, if you can apply curiosity, understanding, and compassion it’s a clear sign of maturity.
Learning and acceptance matter more to you than being right or boosting your ego.
To conclude: Growth creeps up on you
Expansion is an inevitable part of life. As the saying goes:
‘You live, you learn.’
And as you do, you are bound to develop and blossom as a person. But some do it far quicker than others.
Cultivating self-awareness is key to speeding up that journey of self-discovery.
Without it, we cannot objectively evaluate ourselves and see the areas where we still need to grow.