In your younger years, you were probably taught that growth in life is an irreversible change. True as this may be, upon closer observation, you’ll realize that it is not entirely accurate. It has been proven multiple times that people can lose what made them “big.” The loss could be noticed financially, physically (when someone loses hair, for example), mentally, academically, etc.

As such, you cannot say growth is entirely irreversible. However, it does not make the concept any less existent. For that reason, allow us to offer a slightly different definition.

“Growth, in the simplest terms possible, is the process of moving from one position to a higher one.” While it is not particularly scholarly, this definition does provide a pretty understandable and relatively accurate explanation of the concept. Having understood what growth means, let us move a little further than that.

The Three Stages of Growth in Life

Now, it is a known fact the growth of human beings comes in three distinct stages. The first is childhood. After that comes adolescence, and the final stage is adulthood. In this article, we won’t be looking at the physical landmarks of growth in humans. Instead, we’ll be looking at the three stages in relation to how they define your level of intellectual and emotional advancement.

Childhood

This is the first stage of growth in life. It is marked largely by small physical features and the mostly blank canvass that is the mind. At this stage, you are yet to form your values, and you certainly do not have a concrete opinion of the world. In a manner of speaking, your entire life’s philosophy is to chase and attain satisfaction.

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If you have a spoon of yoghurt and you like it, you’ll want an entire bowl because it brings you satisfaction. On the other hand, if you stick your hand into an open flame, you’ll pull away because the pain brings you dissatisfaction. Here, you largely see things based on what you want and what you don’t want. There’s not a lot of mental strength in this regard.

Adolescence

In this stage, you are growing older. Your chest is broader, your voice is deeper, and you have a growth spurt every other day. Mentally, you’ve advanced beyond the pursuit of satisfaction and the avoidance of its unpleasant cousin – dissatisfaction. However, in this stage, your decisions are largely guided by the desire to be accepted by others.

If you see a bowl of delicious yoghurt that’s not yours, you don’t choose not to steal it because stealing is wrong. You choose not to steal it because stealing would make friends and family see you in an unpleasant light. So, you’re doing the right things, but your definition of the right thing and the decision to do them is largely based on others’ opinions.

Adulthood

This is the final stage of growth in life. Here, your body has taken its final length, and the only thing changing is the size of your muscles if you decide to start working out. Mentally, we’ll define this stage as the period when you are self-propelled. Here, you no longer do things just because you like them. Also, you no longer chase after what people think of you. In this stage of mental development, you are an intelligent individual with solid values. Your motive for doing things is simply because it is the right thing to do.

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Bottom Line

Sadly, there are grown men who still have the mentality of children and adolescents. They want to do things just for pleasure or because it makes them look good. True adulthood is defined by following the right values because it is the right thing to do. Are you an actual adult? Or are you just a child/adolescent living in a grown man’s body?

P.S.: This article is largely based on ideas propounded by American author, Mark Manson.