Musing on Words

This is interesting...

A large number of you really pinged on the Friday Confessional post I made. Specifically, on this:

I confess...
That I have an expectation that every adult I meet will be as mature or more so than I am. And every time I am disappointed I feel a bit mystified. Like, how did you get to be this age and STILL a self-centered child? I don't get it.

Many of you made comments to the effect of equating my word "mature" with too-serious, stodgy, stuck-up, stilted, and generally not fun at all.

Many of you disregarded the term "self-centered child", or else viewed it in a much more positive light than I intended.

It's interesting to me that one word can have that many meanings to that many people. And clearly, if we view this as a cross-section of current American culture, the popular opinion is that mature adults are not fun to be around.

I wonder why this is the case? How did a word that means "reached maximum physical growth potential" get co-notated to "takes oneself too seriously to be fun or young"? In an age when children are achieving adult-level rewards and responsibilities younger and younger (though they are not always aware of all the consequences) in fashion and technology, why are we still reaching back for childhood? Or perhaps it is because of all those weighty responsibilities that we take on- maybe we feel they are too much, and therefore being an adult is 'overrated' and by contrast being not-mature is best?

Here is what I actually mean by that statement above:

I am mystified as to how you have survived in this world. I can see maybe having one of two of these, given the circumstances of your life, but to have most or all of them? Huh.

I have this attitude because my parents forced us to accept personal responsibility from an early age. We learned to be independent enough to function once we graduated high school. We learned to take pleasure in giving back to others and our community. We learned that even though doing chores and paying taxes and such isn't fun, it's a necessary part of greasing the gears of life.

So when I run into someone who functions as a young child (I'm thinking 3 year old here) but is my age or older, I am utterly confused as to how that happened.

I'm pretty sure if I was that way, at some point in the past 12 years at least one person would have smacked me upside the head until I grew up. 

And I'm not saying that I'm perfect or the model for maturity, either. I just use myself as a measuring stick when comparing myself to others (I like to try and check in with myself, to see if I feel like I'm reaching my maximum potential at any given moment....and let me tell you, sometimes it's a VERY humbling exercise).

But does that make me not fun to be around? Or stodgy? Or a total bore? Hrmm......