I believe that maturity is far more than having proper composure at all times - it's knowing how you should behave, knowing and using tact, possessing a decent understanding of social skills, morality, and being able to foresee the consequences of your actions. In all that we learn as we grow up, we mature.
Selflessness and humility are also signs of maturity. To be able to admit when you're wrong is good, but being able to identify where you've erred, and then work to make a change, is even better. It can be to know how to comfort your friend when they're sad, how to reassure a little kid when they're scared; and possessing coping skills, in that instead of trying to escape problems, you strive to solve them.
When you go off to college after high school, you'll be presented with many things that become true tests of your life skills and morals, as well as discipline and self-control. The amount of freedom you're presented with - far more than you've ever had before – can wreck a career if it isn't curbed with self-control. Playing games all day and night, slowly slipping behind, with nobody but yourself to decide when you stop, is likely a great temptation for college students.
It seems that the popular definition of maturity, which is to abandon enjoyable things in order to do things that are not so fun and often harder. It's often presented with negative connotations-just like morality is, or Christianity, which is far more than the set of rules that I see people reducing it to.
Having maturity shows that you're capable of making it on your own. Not alone- people should never be without supportive friends in their lives and careers- but without your parents housing you, feeding you, or teaching you how to live as a fully functioning adult. Indeed, that's really the difference between turning 18 and being an adult.
All of this makes me realize how important it is for parents to live as a constant example of how their kids should live their lives. I hope to be a living example for my future kids. There are parents that, even if they mess up, they admit it, and work to make it better. I've seen it first-hand. It's great to see parents doing this and to see their kids growing up mature and responsible; and I hope to do the same for those ahead of me. This I really and truly believe.
-Austin Burk (Sudofox)