Most people are likely to have heard the story of Peter Pan, a boy that never grows up, and maybe they have even seen the Disney 1953 movie of the same name. In the video cassette commercial trailer for the movie, Disney described Peter Pan as an all-time hero, and how it was the wonderful story about the boy who never grew up. So perhaps Walt Disney is to blame for all the immaturity that we sometimes see around us, or maybe some people have actually managed to find Never Land. As clever of an excuse as that may be, it has nothing to do with the maturing process. The maturing process is not linear and is different for everyone. However, understanding the complexities behind the maturation process might give people a better understanding of why some people behave in the manner they do, and an appreciation for all the kids who were thought of as being too serious and never having time for fun.
The World Health Organization does not consider Peter Pan syndrome an actual condition, rather it is a popular culture term to describe adults who exhibit a level of immaturity or ignorance that is outside the norm for adults. Some of the most commonly accepted markers of adulthood tend to be moving away from home, completing studies, getting a job, getting married, and having children. Some of the most commonly attributed factors to “Peter Pan syndrome” tend to be having anxiousness around a job, earning a living or achieving success, fearing loneliness and having a need for others to be around them at all times, an over-inflated feeling of self worth, and being prone to outbursts at early signs of a stressful situation. Societally and culturally, however, girls tend to mature faster than boys, which seems to be linked with gender roles and with girls being taught how to do house-related tasks, while boys tend to go without having these responsibilities. However, if children, regardless of their gender, grow up having to take care of a parent or having to find a job to provide for themselves because their parents are incapable of doing so, that forces them to grow up much faster. But, for these children, there are real-life costs to not being serious about their priorities and focusing on fun.
One of my favourite health experts whose books I love to read, fellow Canadian and world-renowned health physician, Dr. Gabor Mate, explains the concept of maturity in an understandable way. Adults who are mature are able to self-regulate when they are stressed by telling themselves to slow down or take some deep breaths. What complicates things is if an adult’s brain does not function maturely and if that adult brain never got the right conditions for healthy development. Now you have an immature adult’s brain responding to situations in a manner that may no longer be appropriate as it may have been at an earlier point in life. This can lead to many complications, largely due to misunderstandings and miscommunications that can be attributed to many factors, ultimately leading back to immaturity.
Every person has been immature or ignorant, myself included, some more than others, perhaps trying too hard to always be the funniest person in the room. In the grand scheme of things, none of that truly matters if people are able to break through the barrier of immaturity, and into the thinking that reflects sound thinking and good judgement, and it is something that every person is capable of achieving.
Incoming text: “You’re a *racial epithet*. Are you a bot? Or NPC?”
What if I proclaimed that almost everything in Ripley’s Believe It or Not was more believable than some of the interactions that I have had with people? Would people believe it or not? I am not so sure, but imagine being thirty-two years old, and a thirty-year-old friend from almost a decade ago messages you wishing you a Merry Christmas, then a few messages later they send messages reading, “You’re a *racial epithet*, then asking, “Are you a bot? Or non-player character (NPC). Sound real? No way. Funny? Perhaps. Passive aggressive? Certainly. But I still do not know how to begin unpacking this holy trinity of a single identity-labelling statement and two identity-defining questions.
A good start may be to recognize that the racial epithet used did not reflect the accurate amount of melanin that I had in my skin, and although I felt like the coolest person when my childhood friends from Heron Gate would call me that, those feelings are specific to a long time ago. Then, as much as I wanted to reply to the NPC question by quoting the most famous NPC streamer and fellow Canadian, Pinkydoll, by saying, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Gang. Gang.”, maybe even sending over a link to her video, I simply ignored the questions and said that I would reconnect with this person down the road. Had I responded by quoting Pinkydoll, the chances I would have received a reply back that was homophobic in nature is quite high, sadly. And perhaps the only thing funny about the situation is the thought of trying to explain to anyone that I was straight, and that there was another person with the exact same name as me, “Aleksandar Golijanin”, who was member of the same ethnic community as me, but who was a member of the LGBTQ community in the Greater Toronto Area and that had participated in a reality TV show about the drag lifestyle call Drag Heels (2018).
Perhaps the only explanation that has ever sounded wackier and crazier than trying to explain the above might be the time Fabio attended a nationally televised event at an amusement park in 1999 and served as the honorary first rider on a new attraction that would leave him bloodied. On that occasion, Fabio rode on “Apollo’s Chariot” roller coaster and during that inaugural ride a goose flew into his face, breaking his nose. The weird part was hearing Fabio trying to explain that what transpired was not a freak accident, thus making it sound like it was planned and deliberate. There is so much wackiness and craziness on so many levels that it makes for quite the rabbit hole. What I ponder most about is whether that goose was Canadian, or whether someone actually did set him up with a homing bird because they were tired of him dominating the male model industry. Heck, it might have even been the result of Fabio’s decision to provoke the Greek Gods by proclaiming that he could not believe that he was not Apollo, while wearing a cape and puffing out his chest as the wind pushed against his hair, in a scene that would make most female supermodels quite jealous. But that is a rabbit hole I do not want to fall into. So, trying to explain situations like these might sound like a trip that someone who takes Ayahuasca may go on, but I have never taken it, nor do I have the ability to call Joe Rogan or Mike Tyson to find out, so it will have to remain a hypothesis.
One of the only other places on earth that can live up to Hollywood and its shenanigans, is a city called Ottawa, the capital of Canada. A miniature Hollywood, full of lookalike versions of everyone’s favorite celebrities, and all that is missing is a lookalike version of TMZ. Thus, the combination of a mini-Hollywood and lookalike celebrities is a mixture guaranteed to produce the kind of drama not even the best scriptwriters can write. Our interactions can sometimes resemble an infamous skit from Chapelle’s Show that first aired in 2003, known as “The Playa Haters’ Ball”. Because this side of the Ottawa River is known for occasional “Hate! Hate! Hate! Hate!” chants, and anybody who does not believe me should get on social media and look at what anonymous social media users have called our Members of Parliament, since the Trucker Convoy has long passed. The only thing that has the potential to put an end to “The Playa Haters Ball” is the fact that the likes of the RCMP and the FBI no longer look at the idiocy and stupidity of online posts like they once did when social media first emerged, laughing in their chairs, and saying things like, “Get a load of this, will ya!”
As someone who got really close to doing reality TV and edgy comedy, I did not end up going through with it because there was no money in it, roughly $400 per week for 12 weeks of work. I am much happier that I ended up deciding to see where I could go with a solid education. Being able to leverage my learning in ways that can make a significant difference in the lives of people everywhere is far better than being known for being a goofball with clout, but it was maturing that helped me come to that realization. Sure, I can still “Turn my swag on” word for word, bar for bar, just like Soulja Boy, but more than that, I want to carry myself like Barrack Obama and make tangible differences in people’s lives, rather than just entertain them, not that there is anything wrong with entertaining.
What might be the saddest part of it all is that immaturity often holds people back from achieving their full potential, and that matters because we live in a place where there are no horizons, so if we are brave enough to reach out then we can literally grab the stars out of the sky and the opportunities they hold. At some point in a person’s life, however, immaturity and ignorance become a choice, and can not be attributed to not knowing better. Yes, the maturation process and transition is nuanced and occurs at a different pace for everyone, but thinking and behaving in the same manner as one did in their late teens or early twenties once they are well into adulthood is something Muhammad Ali referred to as a wasted life.