Being the youngest amongst the three siblings, I always had a bit of leeway. That my brother and sister were older, helped me get away with so many things.

“It’s okay,” they were often told by my parents when talking about me, “he’s too small.” I banked on that advantage fully. Of course, every time my two siblings accommodated me (which they did rather lovingly almost all the time), I was also schooled by my mother or father that I must respect them more. “They are older than you,” I would be told. “Don’t argue. You need to listen to them more.”

It was a pretty standard parenting strategy: tell the older children to be more compassionate towards the younger one(s) and tell the younger ones to be more respectful towards the older one(s). At any rate, everyone was told to grow up. You are not six anymore, you are not a kid anymore, you are a teenager now, you are a grownup, etc. 

But what does it mean to grow up?

Does being mature mean that somehow you will deal with life differently to how you did when you were a kid? How do we ascertain how grownup one is? It turns out, the answer is rather simple. I came across this beautiful framework to do just that. It offers five reflections to determine how old you are when you encounter the following situations:

When Someone Disagrees With Me

Just close your eyes (after reading the post, of course) and think back to a time when someone disagreed with you. It could be a simple disagreement like lets-go-to-a-hill-station-for-a-vacation versus no-let’s-go-to-a-beach or a more profound ideological disagreement like I-can’t-be-with-you-unless-you-converted-to-my-religion or anything in between. It could be existential too, e.g. what-kind-of-a-person-wants-pineapple-on-their-pizza? Just kidding. So when the other person disagreed with you, what did you do? How did you feel? What did you say? 

When Someone Pokes Fun at Me

Everyone enjoys laughing at a good joke except when it’s on them. In such circumstances, only emotionally mature people or those with high self-esteem can take a joke well. I am not saying that backhanded compliments or sarcasm fall in the same category as poking fun, and you have every right to shut up and shut out such people. But how do you generally react when someone or a group of friends poke fun at you?

When I Want Attention

Ah, attention! Look at the adoption of social media. Vanity, pride, attention, more attention, and then some, form the basis of its growth. Some want not just a lot of attention but all of it. No one else should get as much as they do. A few famous politicians fall in this category and at the root of the desire for such attention is extreme insecurity. A narcissist cannot handle a lack of attention. E.v.e.r. How do you feel about yourself, others, and the world at large when you are not given the attention you feel you want?

When I am Confused

A lot of the time we are not in disagreement with anyone else but ourselves. Confusion is a form of inner conflict. What do you do when you are confused about a certain course of action? Generally, grownups who were brought up in a loving and respectful environment handle confusion much better than those who were raised in an abusive or a deprecating one. In the face of an inner conflict, some become aggressive, many sulk and withdraw, while others are smothered by self-doubt. The more emotionally weak one is, the more they will blame others for their confusion. How do you tackle confusion?

When I don’t Get What I Want

This is perhaps the most significant of all. We all have seen a three-year old throw a tantrum without a care in the world when they are denied their toy, candy or whatever. Is your response an infantile reaction when you don’t get what you want or is it a more mature one? Hint: we tend to be a lot more mature when our boss denies our request, for example. Also, it helps to mention that just because we are asking someone politely doesn’t mean it turns our demand into a request. That is simply being passive aggressive. In a true request, we won’t kick up a storm if our request is turned down. So how do you react when you don’t get what you want?

How well you carry yourself in the aforementioned five situations is a pretty accurate indication of how old you really are and what sort of baggage you are carrying. And you know what I have observed after meeting thousands of people? Most of us don’t ever grow up. Many of us don’t want to grow up. And the rest of us are unaware that we are not grownups even though we more than look the part.

In case you wish to measure your or anyone else’s progress, I’ve provided the framework below for your convenience. It’s directly taken from the video I shared earlier. Feel free to rate on any scale you find meaningful.

All said and done, when life gets us to our knees, it makes the best amongst us grow up faster than we ever thought possible. And so it vastly hastens our spiritual journey when we take responsibility for our feelings and choose to grow up before life forces us to do so.

It pays to remember that while even the strongest could do with a bit of help every now and then, ultimately, it is up to us how well we wish to lead our life. And the more grown up we are, the more peaceful and joyous we become.

So, how old are you?


Important announcements:

  1. The fabulous wordsmith, Sadhvi Vrinda is back with another marvelous book: Bhagavan and Bhakta. I love this line in the intro: “One way to think of this book is that I maintained the diary of a disciple and her inner world, and you, my dear reader, have managed to get your hands on it. No more, no less.” For those outside India, both paperback and e-book are available on Amazon. If you are in India, the e-book can be purchased here while the paperback will be available in the ashram next month. I look forward to reading it.
  1. If you wish to physically attend the sublime Nav Durga Sadhana event (15-Oct – 23-Oct) at the ashram, you can find out the details here


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