Why Turning 21 is Horribly Overrated

It happened in March this year and I still feel no difference. People still think I’m in high school. I still don’t have all of the answers to all of the insurmountable problems in the world.

But hey, I can buy beer.

Well, here it was. My first purchased drink. I was 20 and in Europe. Not all that exciting. 

Yep. That’s what changed for me. Now, instead of not buying beer, wine and/or liquor, I can buy them. Oh, and I can consume them in public while gambling, though I would sooner advise gambling sober because, you know, life savings and all that.

If you live in America those are the only two benefits you really glean on your 21st birthday that is recognized in all 50 states, which leads me to beg the question why does anybody care? Why all the fuss over a birthday where people starting doing what they have been doing for years in public without getting arrested?

You know it as well as I do. In fact so do most people. Take for example this publication by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism which basically says what every other survey says: most of us don’t partake of alcohol for the first time on our 21st birthdays (myself included, though I am proud and moderately disappointed to say I have still never been truly drunk).

Let’s also not forget that the drinking age is quite basically an arbitrary number, as a person can start drinking much earlier overseas.

While I do not think this survey is without flaw, I do think points out that a lot of kids are drinking a lot of alcohol and suffering a lot of consequences. As far as I’m concerned, this also means a lot of kids really don’t care about alcohol and their 21st unless they should decide to binge so hard they forget who they are and wake up in a ditch. Not advisable.

Spending the weeks leading up to my birthday hearing people’s advise was the equivalent of slamming a brick against my forehead.

“We’re gonna get you SO wasted.”

“Can I buy you a drink? I want to buy you a drink.”

“Hey! Twenty-one, huh? Don’t get too crazy now.”

It was the most unoriginal collection of arbitrary phrases I had ever heard, and I hated it. All of these people got themselves all kinds of geared up for my birthday, and why was that?

Literally just because it is now legal for me to drink. Now, I’ve seen it go both ways. A woman who told me she was going to get “turnt” every day for a month only to come home two beers later. Another woman who should have stopped way sooner than she did. All of it just contributes to the unnecessary hype attached to going out to drink when you turn 21. I don’t care that I survived to be 21, and honestly, I don’t really care that you did, either. Glad you’re alive and all, but how many mixed drinks you have that first night out really does not weigh heavily on my mind.

Now, some people don’t get swept up in the stupidity. I had a friend go out for his first drink ever, enjoy it and proceed to have a healthy, normal celebration. Why do people find that to be so disappointing?

Whatever it is, there are two takeaways I hope you have by the end of this. One, very few people really have their first drink when they turn 21, and two, depending on how many people are like me out there in the big, wide world, nobody really cares if you do or don’t. So stop telling people you’re going to get them so wasted on their birthday and stop posting photos of them with everything they drink that night. It is annoying and insignificant, and I think it’s about time we move on to celebrating other milestones in adulthood, like turning 18 and having a say in your government with the power to vote and the HONOR of serving on a jury. To me, those are far more important, and yet they get treated as a burden. Grow up, people.




2 thoughts on “Why Turning 21 is Horribly Overrated

  1. The most I did on my birthday was play a Digimon game for like 5 straight hours. Granted that it was Mom’s Weekend, and I didn’t want to deal with all the people.


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