Does This Mean I'm Growing Up?

By: Josie Smith

I’ve had a number of “Does this mean I’m growing up?” moments recently. The scale includes, "Apparently it is possible to get sick of Mac-n-Cheese," and the equally disheartening, "There is a noticeable difference between tolerating someone and being nice". Each circumstance involved unanticipated consequences, and a tiny promotion on the maturity scale. However, my most prevalent “grown up” realization is this: not everyone thinks the same way I do. We handle stress, show affection, and express excitement within the same situation in a thousand different ways. So how do we learn to navigate relationships and deal with the way others handle things?

Give people what they want, not what you would want.

 We tend to be a tad selfish – we understand the way we personally react to a given situation better than anything else. So it’s natural to treat others the way we would want to be treated. But while I may want sweets and lots of distraction after a hard day, you may need to be alone for a while to process. Don’t assume everyone thinks the same way you do.

Watch others handle conflict.

I have a horrible temper; my first instinct when I’m upset is to make that fact quite obvious. But in my experience, that rarely (okay never) makes things easier. Paying attention to how other people handle conflict can teach you a different tactic, as well as show you how to treat them in the future. No one handles argument gracefully every time - but occasionally, someone gets it right.

Don’t be afraid to ask.

You don’t have to launch a secret recon mission to figure out what people need from you. Simply asking, “What can I do for you?” or, “Do you want to talk?” is much more effective, and leaves less room to inadvertently make things worse. At the same time, be willing to share what you do and don’t need from your friends.

Whether we’re 15 or 45, we’re going to have to interact with people. Conflict is inevitable; you will argue, you’ll have your feelings hurt, and you will experience miscommunication. Learning to consider how others differ from you helps maintain our relationships, and gives us the opportunity to mature in our own lives.

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