Until I turned 21, I was always itching to grow older. As a little 2nd grader in elementary school I thought the 5th graders were intimidating and an 8th grader in middle school I thought high school kids were old and any Junior or Senior was scary. As a freshman (and sophomore) in high school, I found the upperclassmen so… mature (yet still scary). And I looked up to these ‘older kids’ and wished to fast forward to that age so I could do the things they were doing.
Some time during high school, I started drinking alcohol (gasp) illegally. I loved the thrill of it. Drinking with the chance of getting caught – It was such a risk, but it was worth it. When I got to college, drinking was even more of a thing and with campus police constantly watching us, drinking was a complete and total game. I saw older students all over campus and thought it would be years until I was there age. Literally years until I would be running clubs and (legally) heading out to bars on the weekend. I watched people left and right lie about their age AKA use fake IDs. Everyone wanted to be older just so they could get into the bars, buy beer, and – well – seem ‘cool.’ But why? We were young… why didn’t we just enjoy it?
I spent my entire college career (and childhood) wishing I was older. I was lucky enough to have a Fall birthday and turn 21 well after almost all acquaintances in my class… but I didn’t think that at the time. I watched friend after friend after friend turn 21 and head to the bars while I stayed behind drinking at some random house party OR sitting at a bar in which I knew I could get into… while everyone partied at the fun, ‘strict,’ bar I couldn’t get in to. It was depressing. But why?
Turning 21 was anticlimactic because of this. Yeah, there were plenty of bars that I hadn’t been able to get in while under 21. But I had gone to bars. And they are basically all the same… so to find that out was a complete and total buzz kill.
I spent the next year raging like any 21 year old college student should. Basically anywhere you had to be 21 to get into, I went to… from Wednesday to Sunday. When I turned 22, I felt no different. I was happy not to be seen as that little 21 year old at the bar (even though I still would be, but whatever). I had passed the year test into adulthood and was ready for what was next… I mean, at least I thought I was ready for it until I started going out less. And less. And less. Mind you, I was still going out every weekend. But I was working – I wasn’t in college, so there were no more Wednesday night black outs and no friends living next door (on each side).
Soon enough I turned 23. I was 2 years older than I was when I turned 21, but I didn’t feel it. After that birthday (which I celebrated pretty ‘hard’ if I do say so myself), I watched myself (and everyone I interacted with my age) stop going out. No, we didn’t stop going out completely, but compared to what was taking place a year prior, we pretty much did. I only went out twice a weekend on occasion. And when I did go out, I was heading to casual bars more often than I was dancing it up in a cute, trendy outfit.
The other day I turned 24. Never have I ever felt so ‘blah’ on a birthday before. I know I’m still young… but I’m so far from being 21, I don’t think I’m allowed to rage at those bars that are made for 21st birthdays anymore. I look at those who just graduated and know they think of me as older – because when I first started working anyone who didn’t just graduate from college was old.
Friends of mine are starting to turn 25 and are legit freaking out. 25 means 4 years older than 21. It is THE quarter life birthday. The age when some of our parents got married… and if not, it’s pretty damn close.
Each year goes by quicker than the last. When we were two, a year was only half of our life… But at age 24, a year is 1/24th of our life… And at age 50, it’s 1/50th. And as the years keep flying by, we watch time go by where we could have done something with our lives, but most likely didn’t. We fear each birthday after we turn 21 because we don’t want to worry about accomplishing all the necessary life tasks before we get too old. Can time just stop and let us be young forever?
If you’re under 21, don’t sit there wishing for your drunken 21st birthday to come. It inevitably will and after it comes and goes, no birthday will ever be the same. Everything else you have to look forward to now includes work, marriage, children, and retirement. And yes – that’s pretty much it.
For now, I’ll keep reminding myself that I’m still young and that times have changed (30 is the new 20 – didn’t you know?)… and of course I will burn all birthdays post-21. And continue the bender I’ve been on lately where I pretend I’m in college when I’m actually not. Quarter life crisis anyone? Yup.