Natalia Podpora talks being your age and seizing opportunities to grow. Illustrations by Margarita Louka.

Some people are forced into adulthood early in life, while others stay unreasonable and irresponsible throughout their whole life. Why? Well, because they can. 

(For clarity, let me state that this is not including people who have a different rate of emotional growth due for varying reasons, other than ignorance and laziness. I do not mean to include anyone with any social and mental limitations in what I’m writing in the following paragraphs)

Emotional progress and maturity have nothing to do with physical growth and things like puberty. It comes with learning, wanting to learn and wanting to gain experience. Ignorance can be your best friend in life- it is, after all, bliss. But, when it comes to becoming someone who’s mature, personal ignorance needs to take a back step in order for you to have an open-minded outlook. This is to say that you should not expect things, people, and circumstances to accommodate you.

brainFINALI see too many people my age, at university, that simply do not grasp that concept. It is tiring hearing people who should be guiding their own life, and being responsible for their own ways of living, complain or aim to demean everything around them.  People’s ignorance can affect those around them in massively negative ways, such as becoming something that can trigger mental health issues. It is not often talked about but people who live without responsibility, and a few years behind on their reality, are negative people to be around. They are a hindrance to your own development as a person.

It has nothing to do with ‘growing up’ per se- I don’t think most adults are ready to accept the challenge that the responsibility of adulthood is. But it is simply acting your age and being aware of your responsibility as a human of a certain position in life and society.

Let’s be honest, a lot of us are very privileged to be at university receiving an education. There comes a time in our lives to simply appreciate that fact alone and be mature about it.  In fact, the way that a lot of young people use university as this gateway to the real life that comes afterwards, almost like a waiting room.

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Perhaps our privilege in this sense creates an atmosphere of ignorance, or acts as a shield from the real world, as we live off loans and have time to experiment without any real serious consequences. This can even have detrimental effects on an individual’s mental health through a sense of de-realisation, as a lack of responsibility can make negative consequences seem fake or far removed.

There seems to be paradox that exists among students- and generally young people today. Although there are exceptions to the rule, this generation of young people is advanced intellectually, but falling behind emotionally. They are missing many of the marks of maturity they should possess. Everything is coming at them sooner. We want so much to be able to experience the world we have seen on websites or heard on podcasts, seen in films, read about in magazines, but we don’t realise (sometimes until too late) they we are unprepared for the reality of such experience emotionally.

Whilst I don’t exactly know how we could solve this problem I can hope that sooner or later everyone will be presented with the opportunity to grow as a person, even if it’s very late in life.  It may be through a traumatic experience, a loss of any kind, or life changes and dramatic events.  It could be something as simple as a new relationship or watching a film that hits and tugs at things you never knew before in a certain way. Growth can be unpredictable most of the time, and even then people may not take these events or happenings and let themselves be affected in them positively.

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Some people never change in spite of opportunity.  These are the people I personally tend to shy away from. They go through life as one dimensional people, and although there is nothing wrong with such lives, it is not something that encourages self-growth and progress. It is not an open minded way of living. In a world that doesn’t seem to give much to the young individual to make them grow into anything other than an economical commodity, you are unfortunately presented with the task of avoiding becoming a one-dimensional human all on your own. Yet, there are opportunities for personal growth and progress almost everywhere, you just need to know how to recognise them when they appear.

Words by Natalia Podpora, Illustrations by Margarita Louka