For me, turning 21 doesn’t seem like a milestone.
I turned 20 last year. I’m already two decades old. I’m a twenty-something, officially. What changes about turning 21, you ask? The no-brainer answer: alcohol!
Well, it’s not really a no-brainer. I mean, it might be if you’ve been waiting and counting down the days until you can legally drink in public in your daily planner or on your wall or desk calendar with cute puppies or a daily crossword.
Or it might be a no-brainer if you’ve been regularly consuming alcohol and you’re underaged … yes, I’m looking at you. Yes, you right there, the one reading this column. Well, I’m not really looking at you, per se, but you get the idea. Wow, I’m going meta in the first column of the spring semester. This is not a good sign.
Anyway, I’m now 21 and nothing feels different. I don’t feel older. My hair isn’t graying. My joints aren’t in pain constantly. I’m not forgetting things. Yes, I’ve gained some new Responsibilities. Yes, responsibilities with a capital R because they’re important.
They include things like finding the all-important summer internship and maintaining a healthy and lasting relationship. I’m even partaking in an internship program this semester, if that shows initiative. I’m 21 and to be cliché, the world is my oyster. I can now go to 21+ shows, meet people for drinks and go to bars, among other things. And legally too. Oh, and trivia nights. Sadly, I’ve never been to one.
It seems that there’s some standard associated with being 21, like a certain level of maturity, responsibility and acceptance. You can legally drink in the United States. You can go to previously restricted band shows. You can, well, that basically covers it. Social drinking is legally acceptable. Going for drinks and getting plastered is acceptable, but coming hungover to class or work the next day isn’t. But what is it that makes 21 such a special age?
Is it that everyone is older and wiser and has most of their college education out of the way? Not all 21-year-olds I know seem wiser and some are about only halfway done with their college education (if they are super-seniors). Is it that everyone is looking or getting ready to move into the job market? Some 21-year-olds might be looking forward to lazing around at home after college is done. Is it that we’re expected to dress nicely and think rationally and reasonably? I can think of some 21-year-olds who would fit right in with the high school crowd, what with their outfits and humor and mentality.
For now, I’m putting aside the drinking. I always have, apart from some sips at family gatherings and holiday occasions, but I’m honestly fine without it. I’m content being young at heart and seeming older than my years let on. I’m probably one of a handful of people on this campus who still appreciate older pop culture, like music, movies and some television. Go ahead and ask the average Binghamton University students what they can tell you about Hitchcock.
So cue They Might Be Giants. I’m older than I’ve ever been and now I’m even older. And you know what? It doesn’t make a difference to me.