Acting My Age

I may be getting old, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I am always mature.   Physically, I know I’m not young.  I am reminded of this every time I look in the mirror, or try to read anything without my reading glasses on, or worse, attempt to do something that requires the strength and flexibility I no longer have.  Believe me, my years of lifting anything over fifty pounds, turning cartwheels, or even mounting a tall horse without assistance are over.  But when it comes to maturity, there are times when I still fall short.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were sitting in a restaurant at a tall table near the bar, eating dinner and listening to some excellent music.  Some people came in and settled at the bar stools on our right, which was fine.  Unfortunately, they were quickly joined by even more people, mostly male and mostly drunk, who crowded into the space between the bar and our table.  They seemed to have no idea that they were regularly jostling our table, talking so loudly that we couldn’t carry on our own conversation, and that the man nearest to me was practically sitting on my lap.

The mature thing to do would have been to call the manager over and ask to be moved to a quieter table.  But I was annoyed.  We were there first, and they had invaded our space.  I had no wish for either my husband or I to confront people who were clearly under the influence, but that didn’t mean I was going to back down.  Instead, I leaned into the table and shifted my weight slightly to the right, moving the table just a few inches towards the crowd at the bar.  Then I would wait a few minutes and do it again.  It wasn’t long before the extra people standing between our table and the bar were, subtly but effectively, squeezed out.  And I admit that I felt a small thrill of victory as I watched them wander off, looking vaguely confused and annoyed.

It wasn’t my finest hour.  The people may have been rude, but they weren’t deliberately trying to ruin our dinner.  The simple fact was that I felt wronged, and felt the need to strike back, and did so.  If just one of them had noticed that I was deliberately moving my table in their direction, there could have been an ugly confrontation.  That’s what happens when I forget to be a grown up and let my inner child out, who still lives by the rules of the elementary school playground.

The sad truth is there is a difference between growing older and becoming mature.  The first one happens naturally, with no effort on our part, whether we like it or not.  But becoming mature requires an intentional effort to grow in understanding, patience, wisdom, and tolerance.  It means considering the consequences of our words before we speak and the consequences of our actions before we do something, and knowing when a cause is important enough to stand our ground and when it makes more sense to simply walk away.

I like to think that I’ve matured as I’ve grown older, and I know that in many ways I have.  Yet there is obviously still plenty of room for improvement and growth, even at this stage of my life.  I may wish I was just a little less old, but what I’d really like is to be a lot more mature.

74 thoughts on “Acting My Age

  1. Subbing in the elementary arena, I laugh constantly inside at the behaviors but remain impressed with some of the wisdom of the very young. Children sure are growing more wiser in some instances than adults! Sometimes, you just have to let it go.

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  2. Tricky thing isn’t it, maturing? Like you say, Ann, part of it’s a conscious choice, a volitional thing, we gain some sense of decorum and how to adopt appropriate behaviour. But we can’t live our lives as if guiding our lives like a pilot of an airplane all the time; we need spontaneity, a freedom to express whatever naturally occurs within our mind and nervous systems, even at times, to embrace a childlike playfulness, perhaps. I think the guiding principle is one of harmlessness. If we can live with that always as a first principle, it’s hard to go too far wrong. And harmlessness is, I think, closely aligned with the principles and traits you mention in your article: understanding, patience, wisdom, and tolerance.

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    • Oh, I agree! There are parts of my child-like self that I definitely want to hang on to. But the “you hit me, so I’ll hit you back,” isn’t of them. I do think that there are times I need to stand my ground, but honestly, a bunch of drunks taking over my space probably wasn’t one of them. Although, at the time, it felt like just the place to make a stand. I guess it is all a matter of perspective. Bottom line, when a few days pass and I think of what I said or did, I don’t want to cringe. Does that make sense?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it makes complete sense, and perhaps another aspect of maturity is having quite a sophisticated radar for doing the right thing and being self-aware in one’s actions, ethically. It’s hard to appear mature when one’s acting unethically, I think, as often that entails a sort of blindness to the world — the not so good side of childlike behaviour that can act as if disconnected from consequences (for oneself and/or others).

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    • Well, it did work. But on the other hand, I shudder to think what could have happened if one of them had figured out what I was doing and challenged us on it. Sometimes, it’s just hard to know what the right thing to do is, I think!

      Liked by 1 person

    • The funny thing is, my husband knew exactly what I was doing and pretty much encouraged me! And at the time I was glad it worked. But later, I thought, they were just drunk…and coming from what I think was a wedding after party and had no idea they were being so rude to us. And then I wasn’t sure that I did the right thing after all. It’s hard to know, isn’t it? Sometimes I think what is more important isn’t so much what we do, as why we do it. And in this case, I just wanted to stand my ground. Still not sure it was the right call!

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  3. I don’t know how I would have handled it – but I second Miriam’s advice to stop making yourself wrong for it. As the kids [used to] say, “No harm, no foul.”
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know they didn’t mean any harm, but they were quite annoying. Honestly, the jury is still out as far as I am concerned. In the larger picture, I just want to make sure that I’m thinking before I act, rather than just reacting to someone else’s actions. Does that make sense?

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  4. Ann, your article could not have come at a more appropriate time. Jo and I had Lunch 2 days ago in one of our favourite restaurants in town after a morning of rushing here and there in that incredible heat and bad bad traffic – so we were pretty tired and looking forward to a nice buffet lunch and some peace and quiet. But – our hope was dashed. A large group of “matured” and “aged” IT Sales Reps also decided to have lunch here. Fine, no problem, but for them lunch meant mainly loading up their plate with everything what is available and then standing around the Buffet (not much space here!!) and talking shop on the top of their voices. They too did not mean any harm, in fact they did not realized that there were other people in that restaurant. When it came to “Pudding” it was like the battle of …..no way will they sit down and eat, oh no, somebody might come and eat all this super spread before they could have demolished it (a normal occurrence here) – all this was bad enough but then they paid the bill, we heaved a sigh of relief in anticipation of them leaving, but again……we were wrong. Like in your case, instead of leaving the restaurant and having further conversation in the large and comfortable hotel lobby, no, they encroached into our booth space, looks from me did not help, but a polite “excuse me you are bothering us” suddenly made them aware of their action and quickly they left.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sometimes it just amazes me how clueless people can be about how their actions effect other people! I’m glad you spoke up to them and they left, just sorry you had to endure their rudeness for so long when all you wanted was a peaceful lunch!
      Personally, I’m always just a bit at a loss on how to react to situations like that, and I admit the fact that the people we were dealing with had been drinking heavily kept me from wanting to say anything directly to them. I’m not proud of what I did, but honestly, if we had simply abandoned our table, I think I would also have regrets. I tend to second-guess myself a lot, but ultimately, it’s important to me to know that I do things for the right reason. And this time, I’m not 100% sure I did!

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      • You did right, in my opinion, the fact that those people had been drinking would have made me a bit more careful (I think) too. Another think I absolutely hate is “line jumpers” and I have absolutely no hesitation in turning around and saying (at first!) in an icy friendly smiling manner “excuse me, the end of the line is ……. there” And it always works, so far – fingers crossed -. So Ann, follow your gut-feeling, your instinct. Carina

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  5. Honestly? I think you did brilliant, Ann! 🙂 And it´s always good to listen to your guts and instincts, and if that means listening to your inner child as well, then why not? I believe you would have noticed somehow if your strategy wouldn’t have been the right one, we are able to sense these kind of things. Just enjoy your victory 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks! I am probably over-analyzing this particular situation. And, as you say, it worked! But I also know that there are times when I react in a very immature way to other people or situations, and I want to move a bit beyond that. And that got me to thinking about the difference between aging and maturing, and….this post was the result. Thanks for your support and comments, you know I always appreciate them both!

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      • It´s a great post, and I like how you reflected upon the difference between aging and maturing! Like you said, aging happens without our intervention, but we have to work at being mature as well 🙂
        Have a happy Sunday, Ann! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Ha! We all resort to playground rules occasionally, I think. It is noble to be mature and it is difficult at times. I try to never say that is not fair!-but yet I think it a lot! Oh well. Getting older is big business-it is like being 13 again. The world changed on us and we are all “muddling through” at times! Great post as always!

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  7. Passive aggressive behavior gets a bad rap. In this case, it avoided a confrontation that could have gone in a number of directions.

    But I hear what you are saying about maturity. I am constantly amazed when I look at old photos to see how mature our parents generation looked at such young ages. They went through a lot and the challenges they faced demanded maturity.

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    • I know! It seems to me that as we live longer, we are also putting off the maturing process. It’s as though that now we can fight the aging process physically, we are also resisting it mentally. And although I’m all for feeling and looking younger, I really don’t want to go through life acting like a young person. Previous generations did seem to handle the maturing process so much better, although that might have been because they had no choice.

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  8. Actually, I think maturing has a lot to do with realizing that we have choices. And then making a decision about doing the least amount of harm, including to one’s self. I liked your peaceful solution…can we take a lesson (Nationally) here, about drama avoidance?
    ;-D

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  9. I think it is hard to decide what is the right thing to do in a situation that you have not encountered before. I am sure though, that next time you will act more maturely. I sometimes shocked of what people do or say and I just stand speechless and can’t react from the “surprise”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me, too! Sometimes it seems that people are totally unaware of the fact that their actions effect other people. As for me, yes the good thing is that I can always learn from an experience, even when I didn’t act quite the way I wish I had.

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  10. It seems I am often at the tail end of the commentary section. But I am not sad because being near the end gives an opportunity to read some of the preceding comments. I like the distinction you made between growing old and becoming more mature as we age. A post full of wisdom, dear Ann!

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  11. This made me smile a lot because it seems like something I would do sometimes 😀

    About maturing, you’re right. There are times the inner child comes to play or fight (isn’t it awesome we still have this irrespective of age?!) and sometimes it’s our job to hush her. Other times, I think the child in us might be smarter and better at avoiding potentially ugly situations by being just a little bit naughty 😉
    As long as it all works out well in the end with minimal drama, I say it’s a win.

    P.S. Perhaps you felt ‘bad’ about your actions because you think as an adult you should have acted more adult-like? But who says the child’s action was immature?
    There’s something to think about here– about how we process situations as adults and children and how we react to them. And how we end up judging one another based on our idea of what a likely response should be.

    P.P.S I looove your inner child 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You know, I think you have made an excellent point! It’s very possible I feel guilty about what I did because it strikes me as an immature response, but maybe sometimes that’s not such a bad thing. I couldn’t exactly have had a reasonable conversation with a group of drunks, and if we had moved to another table, I would probably have also felt guilty for giving in! Sometimes I can’t win, especially when I second-guess myself. Maybe the point is to accept that there are times when my inner child may know best, as long as I’m not hurting anyone in the process.
      Thanks, as always, for your comments….you always make me think!

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  12. Ann, you chose a brilliant way to stand up (or maybe sit down!) for yourself. Make no mistake, those guys weren’t oblivious to your existence. It was bullying. If one of them had noticed, you had plausible deniability — they wouldn’t have known that you knew. Kudos — and hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! I’m beginning to think that maybe tapping into my inner child isn’t always a bad thing, as long as I’m not hurting others are being oblivious to their feelings. I think what bothered me was that I felt I was “lowering myself to their level,” if you know what I mean. But the end result was that we kept our table, there was no confrontation, and no harm was done. I still want to be a more mature person, but it might be time to stop second-guessing myself about this particular situation. Thanks for you input and insight!

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  13. Sometimes the rules of the elementary school playground work wonders. Personally, in elementary school I certainly wouldn’t have been able to come up with this kind of stealth technique. I’d probably have resorted to more direct action. So either you have matured before your time. Or I am a late bloomer. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I loved this comment, and the last line made me laugh out loud! I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have been that subtle in grade school either, but my response of “I’ll show you” was from that time in my life, I think. However, I like the way you are looking at this. Maybe the fact that I stood my ground in a way that avoided confrontation shows I did come at this from at least a slightly mature place. Thanks for that perspective….

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Lol…oh don’t go getting all mature on me, Ann. That wouldn’t be fun. Your inner immaturity that you try to corral shows up quite a bit on your writings which, in part, is why they’re so interesting and fun. You mask it well, as you did with suave the table move, but it’s always hanging around trying to push its way out…:) And that’s not a bad thing.
    You handled it much better than I would have. I have a low tolerance for people who drink too much in public and make life uncomfortable for the people around them. And I have a low tolerance for disrespect. They should have respected your space, andyour right to enjoy the evening without being squeezed out. But I loved what you did and as much as I would have handled it differently, I wish I would have had the creativeness of doing it your way😊.
    We’re only young once but we can be as immature as we want to be, forever..:) Don’t lose that..:)
    Love this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, George! I hadn’t realized it showed quite so much, but you’re right: there is a part of me that hasn’t really grown up, and probably never will. When I was writing children’s books, I had the excuse that I had to stay in touch with the way a child thinks and feels in order to get the characters right. What my excuse is now, I have no idea. But I do appreciate your validation! I guess some immaturity isn’t bad as long as I’m not hurting others.

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  15. Hello, Ann. I enjoyed this post and some of your others that you have written. I like the fact that I find them food for thought and am still musing over them after I’ve read them. I’ve only just come across your blog; I like your style of writing and am now following it. I’m looking forward to reading some more. Ellie.

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