I always assumed that when kids grow up, they naturally become more responsible, socially-aware, and self-directed. These values were just supposed to grow on you, like facial hair. Not true.
The background story for how this realization came about is rather long and unnecessary, but the point is that it doesn't seem like adulthood happens on its own anymore. Of course, the body will age and grow and the facial hair will come without asking. But those qualities that make adults adults don't.
I'm talking about that kind of adulthood which drives my mother to cook for us every day, even though she doesn't want to. I'm talking about the kind of adulthood that pushed my dad to work harder when I was born, because he realized that my health and well-being were in his hands. I'm talking about that kind of adulthood that makes people understand they need to confess to their mistakes, even if it hurts their ego. I'm talking about the kind of adulthood where people know in their bones that their needs are not the only ones that matter.
These values are the true hallmarks of adults, and they don't come automatically—or easily. Every day we must make an effort to inculcate these ideals, to improve ourselves, so that we can inspire the coming generation as we strive to live up to the promise of the previous one.