Growing up is mostly associated with reaching some temporal limit, which coincides with major physical changes – the kid becomes and adult. It is also associated with the abstraction of growth - reaching a level of maturity in reasoning and action. But let’s talk about emotional growth. It sure is linked to the other two – because hormonal levels are different in an adult and they influence emotion; and because mature reasoning should have some effect on emotions.
Well, it doesn’t, not always. I have come to realize that adults are very often infantile when it comes to emotion. Maybe looking like a grown-up and acting like a grown-up looks good enough for us to proclaim ourselves legit adults. Precisely this belief makes it alright for us to not evolve emotionally. And this, I daresay, is a thing of our age, a trend very much exacerbated by social media, where your boss is very likely to be as concerned about getting lots of likes on his ‘fav song’ post as is your 13-year-old sister.
Another major reason is the profanity and the selfishness of our times. Once upon a time there existed larger notions of proving oneself. Today we are all set on being successful, getting the job, the house, the car, the lifestyle – this is the common goal, the omnipresent virtue. Few speak of honor, of getting over oneself, of becoming the better men. Besides the witty memes about love and kindness, how often do we ask ourselves whether we have evolved as persons, whether our heart is true and just. Who cares? And we wouldn’t have it any other way, not until the popular attitude towards everything outside our comfort zones is a mixture of apathy and neutral hate and the ‘coolest’ expression of character is calling the general public ‘losers’.
Our present values are all derivatives of our desires. ‘I want’ has become the king of all aspirations, the prism through which we view the world, the factor by which we multiply our success and compare it to that of others. So it is no surprise when people, who might look and usually act as adults, start stamping their feet screaming to themselves ‘I want, I want, I want’. This immediate need, much like the one of a child craving cotton candy or a new toy, numbs all reason and becomes an underlying emotion. The problem is that this nagging little egoist is very familiar to us all. Think about it next time you are indulging him – his petty demands might be transparent and making you look weak and ridiculously childish.
There must be a reason left in this world for us to grow up emotionally, to widen our capacity for caring beyond the I. And until this reason is made clear, I will just pretend to have one and get on with becoming better.