American Immaturity: How We Grow Up After We Grow Old

At the age of thirty-five, the author of such literary classics as I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell and Assholes Finish First has had something of an epiphany regarding the licentious lifestyle which informed his New York Times-bestselling tomes. As the years have worn on and life taken its toll, Tucker Max has conceded that copious sex and booze do not lead to happiness. Forbes’ Michael Ellsberg explains:

… this most public of “I-don’t-wanna-grow-up” males is in fact now in the midst of a serious, intentional and devoted period of cleaning up and growing up.

He is changing his ways of the past, and—gasp!—becoming a mature adult male, one is who seeking a committed, long-term relationship, leading to marriage, with an intelligent, substantive, accomplished woman.

The full account of Tucker’s rite of passage from reckless detachment to sober insight is well worth the read. What it speaks to, perhaps unintentionally, is the very nature of maturity.

The word “mature” is defined as “complete in natural growth or development,” also “fully developed in mind and body.” Left undefined is the standard for development.

Without here delving into the full philosophical proof, let us accept for the sake of argument that human maturity is the capacity to deal rationally with the facts of reality and to act to sustain your life and pursue long-term happiness. Consider, the reason children remain in the care of parents until they reach adulthood is because they lack the knowledge and experience to act rationally in pursuit of their own lives. Otherwise, they would have no need of parenting.

An animal is mature at a certain age, having developed to the point where its instincts and physical abilities are sufficient for it to act according to its nature without the aid of its mother. Human beings are different. We alone must utilize reason in order to survive.

By this standard, it is apparent to the casual observer that maturity is a rare trait among men and women. Physical development is completely disconnected from the ability to deal rationally with the facts of reality. Indeed, many make it into middle and advanced age without maturing in this sense. Some go their entire lives without truly growing up.