by Holly Lawrence
“You have no idea where childhood ends and maturity begins.” - P.L. Travers
Growing up is undoubtedly one of the scariest things to tackle because it's unpredictable, inevitable and often seems unreasonable. I remember being around eight years old and laughing at the mention of university; I wouldn't go to university, why would I when I can stay at home? What's more, it was eons away and nothing to ever worry about. University was another world away. Now, however, whilst being asked about what I want to do for a career, university has picked itself up from being years away and has moved to being scarily close, just round the corner.
My childhood is something that I've treasured. Just like everybody else, there were moments that still make me smile today even though they were so simple. I think that's what I like best about childhood, the simplicity and contentment that produced easy happiness.
A problem that people find with teenagers due to the- slightly demeaning- stereotype is that they're grumpy and dissatisfied with all but everything. In all fairness, adolescence is the ending of childhood illusions such as the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and imaginary friends. As we gain independence, we also gain realism and the urge to figure everything out by ourselves because we’re older now and that means we need to prove it. We need to prove everything. It makes sense, since the word ‘mature’ is described as having reached a stage of mental or emotional development characteristic of an adult- and adults know everything. Hours upon hours are spent studying textbooks in hope that when the test comes, we’ll be right. Countless amounts of bets are made between friends because someone's right and someone's going to lose money. That's the thrill of it. Such a thrill we get for proving that we know something obscure that someone else doesn't, because that proves that we know more answers than they do; but are we really going to be happy once we have all the answers? When we don't know something, we’re left to use our imagination and other knowledge, almost making up the rest. Personally, I love that.
What's so bad about not knowing everything? What's so bad about using our imaginations and being a little immature?
If adulthood is knowing everything, I'm not sure that I want to reach it. John Lennon said that ‘living is easy with eyes closed’ because we only see what we want to see. I'm not saying that ignorance is the key to happiness because ignorance is still a negative trait, even in my eyes. I just think that sometimes it's okay to wonder a little and actually use our imaginations. If we know absolutely everything, we have no need for our imagination. Einstein said ‘Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere’ which I believe to be the basis of a different kind of maturity.
Is it really maturity that is defined by full development? We develop more with everything we do and thus I think that maturity is simply learning how to be productive with things you don't know, as well as things you do. It's true that we don't know where maturity begins, but I think this is partly to do with the fact that childhood aids and strengthens maturity; without it, we would be less free and simply knowledgeable. We would know but not think.