Once a young woman in her mid-twenties did a rash (my word) thing to shame and humiliate a person she claimed to love. Her action reached out to family members and friends inviting them into her private life. Her action fractured at least one relationship and actually made some think she was a little crazy and a little pathetic. When I brought up this deed a couple of years later, she offered this explanation of why she had acted as she had. She said she had been so hurt. Her answer seemed like the one you would expect to hear from an immature spoiled child who had no self-control or self-awareness. She seemed like a person incapable of a mature decision. It portrayed her as someone who could not empathize with how her actions affected others on the receiving end; they simply did not matter. It was clear even then that she had no greater wisdom or insight into herself; she still believed she had acted appropriately. I realized that we receive signs in our lives that we often ignore. We may take a sign as random when it actually is the vanguard of a pattern. If only we heeded the signs and warnings in our lives, we might avoid later pain.
I wonder how a person develops maturity. If we cannot learn from the past, can we ever mature? How does someone who is selfish develop empathy and true concern for others? Can a selfish person ever become the opposite of that even at age 30? At age 40? Ever? Or is there a certain age when we must accept that a selfish person will always be selfish? Scary, can that person learn to pretend and fool us?
I have heard people say in the last few years that young people mature later in life than in the past. We can always hope so.