The collision of intellectual maturity and intrinsic naivety in your early 20s

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The tender age of 22 is a delicate installment on our quest for self-actualization. At this age, the bumpers provided by collegiate life is an appealing gig. The naivety of this perspective can make us think we are not technically in charge of our own lives. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing; I think the time and place for that mentality is during our college years. Regardless of the decisions that we have to make in college, there are built-in justifications.

I’m just going to cut to the chase: the sign-up sheet days are quickly coming to an end. We are about to become professionals in the real world. The “hyper-qualified college student” thing will not matter anymore, and neither will being “mature for a college student.” We can no longer be protected by the status of  “only being 22.” 

This next step in our lives undoubtedly means there will be a new normal we have to become accustomed to, which includes different expectations for communication. We would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t want everyone to think the same way we do, but this just isn’t possible. When it comes to new experiences, shattered expectations can be heartbreaking. 

I am from Walkerton, Indiana — also known as Small-Town, USA. Like many people from a small town, I not only knew my entire graduating class, but I assumed that I was friends with everybody. Every single person. Four years later, I realized that I was probably only acquaintances with about 93% of them. This is not supposed to be presented as a bad thing; the trace of naivety protected me from what I would come to understand. I don’t regret this innocence one bit. Even today, I have the hope that I can form meaningful relationships that have the potential to develop into something more. I am glad I have this streak of innocence still left.

Part of what makes the maturity process so confusing is the fact that there is no standard model. When something isn’t consistent, it can be hard to approach the self-reflection inherent to growth. However, the challenge has to be faced with no excuses, because you won’t get anywhere if you sit back and watch. 


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