Confessions of a 31 Year Old Millennial: I Am Immature
As I am writing this article, I am currently 31 years old, but I feel like I have never matured beyond adolescence. I have found that I am far from alone, and many people my own age are feeling the same way. I have searched many articles looking for answers as to why I feel this way and how I can become more mature, but I have often found myself with more questions than answers. Rather than trying to change how I feel, I would rather put it all out there in the form of a confessional. So if you've come to this page in search of all the answers, I'm sorry but I'm still searching for them, myself. If you're just looking for someone that you might be able to relate to, congratulations! This is for you.
Why Do I Feel Immature?
In my 31 years of existence, I have had many experiences that should have left me feeling far more mature than I do. I have earned a degree, I've had plenty of "real world" experience, I have conquered goals and turned my dreams into reality. I have experienced love and heartbreak. I have had people close to me pass away. I have lived on my own, learning to do things like pay bills, shop for groceries, and cook meals for myself and others. I have had to make many tough decisions, yet I still feel as though I am lacking maturity.
Those experiences have had a hand in forming me, as a person, but those are only the big things. It's the little, everyday things that leave me feeling like I am still a child. I still play video games on a daily basis. I watch cartoon shows that are targeted at kids half my age. Since 2014, I have lived at home with my parents. I leave laundry and dishes lying around and procrastinate on cleaning them up. I have difficulty finding and maintaining employment. These are all things that someone my age should've put behind them by now, yet I just cannot seem to do so.
How Did I Get Here?
I didn't always feel so immature. By the age of 24, I was sharing an apartment with the love of my life, working a steady management-level position at a local fast-food chain, I was beginning to consider going back to school to earn a degree, and I was pursuing my life-long dream of becoming a professional wrestler. I was doing more at age 24 than most of my friends, but my focus was clearly fractured. I was doing so much short-term living that I didn't bother to figure out what I wanted to do in the long-term.
By the end of 2012, I had achieved my goal of becoming a professional wrestler. However, a serious spinal injury suffered during a match forced me to quit my job during the recovery process, which took far longer than I would have imagined. My personality began to change, and I felt like I was moving backward through time. These major changes led to a break up with my fiance' which meant having to move back into my parent's house. I did not cope with the break up like a mature adult. The first thing I could think of was to go out and try to get laid as much as I possibly could. I drank every night at the bar, under the mistaken belief that I had missed out on my early-20's thanks to trying to build a family. No matter how much sex or how many drinks I had, it just could not compare to what I had lost. I became bitter, depressed, and isolated. Dealing with constant neck pain and headaches only made things worse, and pretty soon I stopped going out and started hiding in my room, occupying my time with video games and cartoons. All of the time I had spent trying to become a fully-functioning adult had been wasted, and I found myself living like an over-grown child.
Do you feel like you may be far more immature than you should?
How is this a Problem?
I feel like I should have already found my place in life by this time. My inability to do so has left me feeling inadequate, especially when I compare myself to my peers. This inadequacy has only made finding maturity that much more difficult. Despite having a great deal of life-experience, I still have difficulty feeling like I fit in to society. I haven't figured out what I want to do when I "grow up," essentially. I have explored many employment and career opportunities, yet I still cannot find anything that suits me and my passions. I have also found it difficult to maintain intimate relationships due to this feeling of immaturity. I have had plenty of fulfilling relationships and less-fulfilling sexual encounters, but I haven't found the right person to settle down with, despite that being one of my driving goals in life.
Further, an inability to maintain steady, stable employment has burdened my family. I had to move back in with my parents after my ex-fiance' and I broke up in 2014, and since then I haven't been able to move out for longer than a few months before I'm right back at Mom and Dad's house. This may have something to do with why I feel so immature. Being at my parent's house makes me feel like I'm still a child, and I feel as though I still get treated like a kid by my parents. As much as I love being around my family, if no one is holding me accountable for my actions how will I ever mature?
Holding Myself Accountable
If no one else is going to hold me accountable for my actions, then the onus falls on me to do so. After all, it is my life to live and no one but myself has to deal with the consequences if I continue on my current path. Therefore, I have had to begin learning to take responsibility for my own actions, and duly punishing or rewarding myself for those actions. The first step is in deciding where I would like to be in 5 years time. I then have to set short-term and long-term goals that stay in line with my 5-year plan.
Speaking of 5-year plans, I always thought they were ridiculous. Who knows what might happen tomorrow, let alone 5 years from now? Surely, something would come up that would make it impossible to be exactly where I want to be by then. While this is somewhat true, the purpose of a 5-year plan isn't to have an inflexible, specific goal in mind. There must also be room to take unforeseen circumstances into account. No plan is perfect, after all, and if I were to give up on my 5-year plan every time a problem comes up, I would never reach my goals. Rather than having a specific goal in mind, I have designed a 5-year "mission statement" to remind myself of where my short-term goals ought to be taking me.
An example of a "5-year mission statement" would be: in five years I would like to have earned my Bachelor's degree in Graphics Design, started working for a company or design firm that will start me on my career path, and be happier and more mature than I am now.
By using a mission statement, I am giving myself room to change goals, to gain a clearer understanding of exactly what needs to be accomplished to meet my goals, while remaining vague enough so that I am not limiting my scope by having "tunnel vision," which could lead me to miss out on other opportunities.
So, Now What?
Writing this article may go a long way toward helping me recognize just why I feel so damn immature. So the question becomes, what do I do now? Do I sigh in relief because I got it all out? Do I just go back to living as I have these past 4-5 years? Do I start working toward turning my weaknesses into strengths? Just what am I to do?
Taking the easy way out, and just continuing to live as I have is completely out of the question. If I am ever going to become the fully-functioning adult that I know I can become, I have to start making some tough choices, once again. Setting aside the video games to focus on finding my true passions is a great start. Learning to love writing again has been a fantastic way to gain some focus. I have recently decided to return to college to work toward a Bachelor's degree in Graphics Design. Art has always been my saving grace, in one form or another. I feel like I can put that to good use in the graphics design field.
Now that I have a 5-year mission statement in place, I can now focus on the immediate future by creating a list of short-term, achievable goals that will get me to where I want to be. I have made a list of daily, weekly, and monthly goals that ought to enable me to reach my long-term goals. Further, if I achieve my goals, I will do my best to reward myself in some small way.
No goal is too small to make the "daily goals" list. Even if my goal for the day is to do my laundry and wash the dishes, it is going on my daily list. The "weekly goals" list are a mix of things that I know must be done and those that I would like to accomplish, but are not necessarily urgent, must-complete tasks. My "monthly goals" list is a set of larger, more important goals that I must complete to keep me on the right track to accomplishing my long-term goals.
While it may take a while to truly begin to see the difference that I am making through short-term planning, it will be worth it in the long-run if I have a visual reminder that I am capable of achieving my goals. After all, it is through achievement, recognition, and gaining respect for ourselves and from others that makes us feel more mature.
Daily, Weekly, Monthly Goals List
Do my laundry
Schedule Doctor's appointment
Pay off $X toward student loans
Take a hike with my dog
Finish all of my weekly goals, at least twice
Go Grocery Shopping
Finish two HubPages Articles
Finish registering for classes and be fully prepared for classes to begin
Feel free to comment below on your own feelings of immaturity, share your experiences in long-term goal planning, or even create your own 5-year mission statement.