Remember that maturity has very little to do with age, and only sometimes corresponds to the extent of one's life experiences. I know 50-somethings who take less personal responsibility than some teen-agers. I know 30-somethings with enough learning experiences under their belt to last a lifetime.

Remember that what may be old news to one person could be an earth-shaking discovery for someone else. For example, you may always have understood that relationships-- like people-- change over time. It may be a long and rocky process, full of doubts and anger and pain, for your cousin or your best friend to come to the same conclusion. S/he may be hurt by the changes in your relationship, get angry that the old understandings don't always apply anymore, and doubt whether or not you can have a friendship at all...

And just maybe s/he'll go on to surprise you by facing the fears and the anger, and recognizing that relationships-- like people-- change over time. The best that we can hope for is to change together, or to mature enough that we can embrace the differences as we once embraced the similarities. To celebrate those times when a friend or family member travels through the anger, the fear, and the doubts, to come out a better person and a more understanding friend on the other side.

Remember that we all have our challenges, and that knowing more or less about any one thing does not make us better or worse than the people around us. We do the best we can, and we move forward with hope and awareness. In the end, does it matter more where we end up, or how far we've traveled to get there?

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