Have you ever looked at a grown man and just thought he was stuck in a state of extended adolescence?
Let's be honest...
I doubt you have had that exact thought, BUT you may have seen grown men that need to grow up a little bit but you are not entirely sure how to put your finger on it.
Some call it prolonged adolescence others call it extended adolescence, regardless in my opinion immaturity has been bleeding into the early and mid-twenties in a way that is entirely new to the western culture. We have previously touched on this topic here "Why Prolonged Adolescence is the New Epidemic."
I mean, sure, on some levels I agree that extended adolescence may be useful for creativity and plasticity of how young men interact with life, but at what cost is this lack of maturity costing society? An article over at The Atlantic states,
"A 15-year-old can reason and problem-solve as well as an adult in many areas of calculation, and they can accurately identify the risks of drug taking, unsafe sex, and crime. It’s when incentives, fatigue, social pressures, or stress come into play that an adolescent becomes more susceptible to irrational thinking. "
I found this fascinating as it highlights how an adolescent may be able to identify that which is socially proper and improper but lacks the skills to appropriately deal with what I would summarize as the hardships of life.
"Studies reveal adolescence to be a period of heightened “plasticity” during which the brain is highly influenced by experience. As a result, adolescence is both a time of opportunity and vulnerability, a time when much is learned, especially about the social world, but when exposed to stressful events can be particularly devastating."
Before proceeding into ways to overcome extended adolescence and become a more responsible man I want to define this term and my stance so you can understand where I am coming from.
Here is how I would define extended adolescence: The underdeveloped capabilities to handle stress, social pressures, responsibility, and fatigue into the early to late twenties.
From that very definition, I have based all the simple ways to overcome extended adolescence.
I have written this for the young men who are in their early or mid twenties who want to grow and mature but just are not sure how. I hope you find the following tips helpful.
1} Find somewhere to volunteer and give back.
Step one to becoming a more mature man is learning that the world does not revolve around you. An essential part of growing up is becoming less selfish, and volunteering is a great way to start growing in this area.
Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be rewarding for you, the volunteer as well.
"Volunteering and helping others can help you reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose." For more on volunteering Click Here.
I know personally, I will never forget when I was working with an organization that fed and clothed homeless people. There was this older gentleman who had worn through his shoes due to walking so much. He did not have money for new shoes, and in his wanderings, he had walked over some glass which had lodged itself deep into his feet. When I was able to give him a new pair of shoes and see the relief in his eyes it was something I will never forget and made me a much more thankful human being.
Sobering up to the reality that the world does not revolve around you, people are suffering, and you can do something about it, is a powerful way to start stepping away from extended adolescence.
If you have no idea where to get started when it comes to volunteering check out this website to begin the process, "Volunteer Match."
2} Get a challenging job.
Now, I am not here to give you career advice.
BUT, I am here to help you conquer extended adolescence, and one way to do that is get yourself into a job that has actual demands of you.
There are many jobs out there where you can just turn your brain off and go on cruise control. If you are currently in a situation like that something you can do is challenge yourself to be the best at that job you possibly can be.
Also here are some more tips that may help if you are in that situation, "Top 10 Ways to Survive Your Crappy Job."
So, now while you are learning to survive your crappy job and are perfecting it, update your resume, get out there, and start applying for new jobs or start getting some education to help you head in a new direction.
Find a job or industry that will challenge you and demand you rise to the occasion. This will cultivate you and push you towards maturing.
Take some time and figure out skills you might want to learn and get a job in that industry.
There are many options out there, the biggest thing holding you back is you!
3} Be 100% responsible for your finances.
Pay for everything in your life.
Sure getting a helping hand at times feels nice. BUT, it is necessary that you take responsibility for your financial life.
Over at the Daily Worth, they said this, "By continuing to rely on your parents’ money, you could be putting their own finances at risk — and setting them up to rely on you financially later on. In addition, by keeping your parents on the line as your financial safety net, you may be avoiding developing important habits of financial responsibility."
The author continues to give tips on how to separate yourself. Here is a summary of those points.
- Set a date, then cut the cord.
- Educate yourself based on life events.
- Create a backup plan.
- Create a budget.
- Practice self-discipline.
These are all practical steps that can be taken.
When taking responsibility for your finances, it also creates a whole different type of maturity and mental development in your life that is necessary for you to purge yourself of the adolescent mentalities that are holding you captive.
When you are able to recognize the value of the comforts of life you have it totally changes how you percieve your immediate surroundings.
When you are a child you just think food just appears. When you are an adult you think about how much it costs.
At the core when you start paying for 100% of your life you will percieve the world in a different more mature light.
4} Ask three people in your life for input.
This can be scary for some, but I feel it is a great tool that is underutilized.
Asking people for their thoughts on some pre-formulated questions can be highly beneficial depending on how you approach the situation.
If you are looking to mature more as a man and in some senses, overcome extended adolescence, hearing and realizing what those close to you think can be a pivotal moment.
This is my recommendation make a list of three people that you value what they think. Shoot them a text, call them on the phone, or ask them in person if they have a moment to help you.
Tell them you are doing a personal growth exercise and that you need to ask three people you respect some questions.
IF they say yes, then proceed with asking them these following questions. It is of the utmost importance though that you inform them that you need honest answers.
Here is a list of questions you can ask them and record the conversation if the person will allow it.
- What do you perceive are my strengths?
- What do you perceive are my weaknesses?
- What are some areas in my life do you think I can grow in? Why do you think that?
- How do you think I can become a better human.
Now a HUGE thing about this exercise is you cannot get defensive. Listen to what the person is saying openly, and honestly evaluate if what is talked about are areas of your life you need to change. They could be wrong, but the chances are their observation is correct.
After talking with three close friends see if there are any common traits that are highlighted that need improvement. Then take action to work on your weaknesses.
5} Do something challenging.
Have you ever heard the phrase big fish in a little pond?
Well, this is something you should "PONDer on" hahaha... alright enough with the dad jokes.
Men often find it demeaning to do things they are bad at, so often in order to not feel like a failure or look stupid they stop themselves from trying new things. THIS IS A HUGE MISTAKE!
Men, need to fail. So it is of the utmost importance that you do things in life that challenge you.
Pick up a new sport, try to learn how to code a video game, run a marathon. DO SOMETHING.
Specifically something you have never done before. This will push you to grow. When you learn the skill of how to say, "I don't know." and "Will you teach me?" Your life will start to turn around.
If you need ideas of how to challenge yourself, the Thought Catalog has some great tips to get you started. I thought it would be good to highlight a few.
- Learn a new word. Flip a dictionary to a random page and point, or choose a letter and start combing through the options online until a word strikes your fancy. Commit the accepted definition to memory.
- Ask yourself what cause you genuinely care about. Make a small donation to a related charity.
- Ban yourself from social media for a specific timeframe and hold yourself accountable to the self-imposed restriction.
- Call your mom or dad and ask them lots of questions. Force yourself to stay on the phone longer than usual chatting about the stuff that’s important to them.
I think these are some great little things you could do to get yourself moving forward.
The last thing I will say is if you want to challenge yourself, continually face your fears. Once a week or month, do something that makes you uncomfortable and forces you to confront a fear head-on.
6} Find a role model.
“People seldom improve when they have no other role model but themselves to copy.”
– Oliver Goldsmith.
For young men to have a hero or someone they look up to is highly significant. This is a definite motivator for self-improvement and just being a better human being in general.
While reading on this topic I came across a website that is called Lifestyle Updated and they said something that stuck out to me so I thought I would share it, "Our positive role models motivate us, teach us in a specific way to an extent where we uncover our true potentials, and overcome our barriers."
I think this is a great thing to understand and utilize as a tool. There have been many times in my life where my greatest inspiration to take action came from people I looked up to as role models or as respectable humans.
Here are a few tips to find a role model.
- Pick an area of life you are passionate about.
- Then research and find someone who is in the top of that industry or realm.
- Find some of their public content like books, podcasts, or youtube videos and see if when they speak you feel what is said is refreshing and uplifting.
- Once you find someone that you find exciting and inspiring ask yourself how you can start learning from them.
That is one way to find a role model as a young man. If you want some more help finding a good role model check out, "How to Choose a Role Model."
7} Read some books.
Reading a book or two never hurt anyone, quite the opposite in my opinion.
I have found that when realizing and learning that other humans have gone through much more difficult times or have built incredible things, it starts to put our own lives into a healthy less egocentric perspective.
I remember when I read a biography of Benjamin Franklin and how much it inspired me to be a better human being and changed the way I viewed local government entirely.
That being said, I hold steadfast to the belief that a way to mature is to dedicate myself to learning from others who have gone before me.
When taking the time to read books, it is a way of saying to your subconscious I don't know everything and I am willing to learn from others. It is a way for a young man to lay down his pride and admit he doesn't know everything. That is a huge step in overcoming extended adolescence.
Now go read a book!
8} Learn how to be a good listener.
Learning how to be a good listener is a great way to become more mature. Active listening is a tool that has lost a good amount of value in the society of young people.
It is important for young men to be able to hear what their boss, significant other, family, and friends are saying. Assuming you know what they are saying will lead you to a place in life that is unbeneficial to you and society.
Here are a few tips on how to improve your listening skills.
- Have inviting body language.
- Keep eye contact.
- Listen without distraction.
- Take note of the speaker's body language.
- Listen with the intent to learn.
- Be open-minded.
- Try to empathize.
- Avoid trying to offer an immediate solution.
- Remember to use an active-listening attitude.
- Source: "How to develop listening skills."
If you put those simple steps into action, you will be headed in the right direction. When in a conversation here are some questions you can ask to show you are engaged and listening.
- What do you mean by that?
- What I hear you saying is (Fill in the blank). Is that correct?
- Could you restate that I am not sure I understand you?
Making statements like this will show that you are actively listening and will make the other person feel that you are engaged.
Now go out and practice!
9} Write out a vision for your life.
Developing and creating a vision for one's own life is hard work.
Once a true vision is formed then the motivation to fight for it comes into place. Anyone not motivated by what they want for their life doesn't actually know what they desire in life.
So, if you are a young man who is in need of developing a vision for your life take some time and write out your answers to the following questions that can help get you started.
- Where do I want to be in 5 years?
- Who is the ideal man I want to become?
- Are there specific accomplishments I wish to desire?
- Do I want a family?
- What short-term goals do I have?
It is highly important to realize that this is not a one hour exercise. NO! This is a lifelong process of refining and tuning of what you want for your life. The more articulate and detailed you are though, the more motivated you will be by your vision.
For example. If you say, "I want a million dollars in my bank account by when I am 28." This is a goal you have but it is not very specific and does not help direct your energy.
Here is an example of being more articulate, "I want to have a net worth of a million dollars by the time I am 28, I will attain this through buying and selling businesses in the construction industry."
Do you see the difference? I could go much more in detail but for the sake of keeping the segment short, that will have to do for now.
Take time and write out a vision for your life. The more work you put into this, and the more often you read over this, I can almost guarantee that you will feel more motivated and mature.
10} Stop playing video games.
I know, I know, everyone is hating on video games these days.
Let it be known I enjoy playing a few every now and then, but why I am bringing them up in this context is that there is a strong chance you may be addicted to video games if you don't like this point.
Now yes, there are many other worse addictions out there but hey it is an ADDICTION.
So, this is my challenge and advice.
Take a month off once or twice a year from playing all video games. If you do this the amount of free time you may encounter will surprise you and then you can give more effort into some of these other ways to overcome extended adolescence.
11} Move to another City.
When I was doing research for this article I went onto some subreddits and facebook groups and asked men what helped them grow up and mature as a man.
If was a common response of men to state that they had been forced to mature a good amount when they moved to another City or State where they knew no one. It made them face new realities and forced them to step up to the plate and deal with their responsibilities.
Moving to another City or State is usually not the easiest thing to do, but what you will learn will heavily outweigh the hardship.
Here are a few reasons that you should take into consideration.
- You become independent.
- You know what it feels like to have no support system.
- You become adaptable and open-minded.
- You learn to build connections and network.
- You can build a new identity.
- You become self-reliant.
- You become more in tune with your gut instinct.
- You become bold and fearless.
- You start to wonder where home is.
- For more on these points check out, "10 Reasons Why You Should Move to Another City in Your 20s."
These are a great summary of just a few things that will happen if you move.
Take this into consideration and ask yourself if there is somewhere you have always wanted to live. Then ask yourself what is stopping you!
12} Start a side hustle.
Starting a side hustle/business is a great way to learn and mature.
When you realize the world is not all cartoons and candy you start to mature in a healthy way.
I like it how this site put it, "There is nothing like an entrepreneurial venture to teach you a million new things. From creating a website to networking to balancing a business bank account every month, you’ll be picking up fresh skills left and right."
When being forced to learn new things, interact with government municipalities, or just going to a networking event, all of these things will push you to grow and mature as an individual.
Also, starting a side hustle is you taking action on a dream or ambition and tangibly fighting for it. This feeling alone will empower you and help you realize what you are capable of.
If you got side hustle idea I hope you take action today!
13} Seek out Emotional Intelligence.
This last way to grow in maturity and overcome extended adolescence is, in my opinion, the most important.
The amount of emotional intelligence you choose to develop and grow in is directly correlated with your level of maturity in my belief.
What is emotional intelligence? Over in "7 Practical Ways To Be An Authentic Man" in the first point this is stated, "Emotional intelligence can superficially be defined as 'the ability to identify and manage one's own emotions and the emotions of others'."
So why is this important to seek out? Because a man who is not aware or able to quantify his emotions is a man choosing to disregard a part of his humanity.
Do you want to ignore a part of your humanity? I doubt it haha.
So how do you grow in emotional intelligence?
- Accept the fact that you have emotions. This may seem ridiculous, but I have interacted with many men who refuse to engage with their emotional selves. They are ashamed of having feelings outside of anger.(Click here for an article on men and anger.)
- Go read this article "50 Tips For Improving Your Emotional Intelligence." There are so many practical ideas they share that is worth the read.
- At its core, if you focus in on and work hard to improve and master these four attributes, it should set you well on your way to becoming an emotionally intelligent man. (Click here for more info.)
- Social awareness
- Relationship management
- Embrace the journey and be willing to ask questions. If you let your pride get in the way, you will only hold yourself back from a full thriving life.
These are all practical things you can start working on right away! Taking the time to develop and search out growing in emotional intellegence as a man will benefit you for the rest of your life.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. If you have any questions or thoughts please feel free to reach out to us or write a comment!