The 21st birthday is the birthday of all birthdays. It’s the only one people look forward to from the moment they know what alcohol is, and it’s arguably the last birthday that counts. Unless you consider being able to rent a car exciting, because then 25 might be pretty cool for you.
Regardless, the night of your 21st birthday is a highly anticipated event that usually involves bars, alcohol, loud music, all of your friends, and absolute madness. All of which you probably won’t remember — or at least shouldn’t remember.
My 21st birthday was great. It was everything I would have expected it to be and a little bit more, but now that I’m 23 (and almost in my mid-20s) and my birthdays aren’t quite as exciting, there are some things I wish I could have done differently.
So (from what I can remember), these are the things I wish I did differently on my 21st.
1. Do something fun during the day before the party starts at night.
The main event of a 21st birthday is when the sun goes down and the drinks go up. But there’s a whole day before that happens and I kind of forgot to enjoy that part of it. I spent a lot of time getting ready to go out, doing things like painting my nails and doing my hair and make-up and picking out the perfect outfit. Which was fun, but those are also things I do on a regular basis.
I wish I planned some special things to do during the day, like going out to lunch with friends or going to the spa with my sisters. There was so much anticipation for the night that I forgot to enjoy the day and I wish I spent my time better.
2. Make a solid plan.
The extent of my plan on my 21st was to “go where the night takes me”. Which sounded fun, but turned out to be kind of stressful. I knew what bar I wanted to start at, but after that I didn’t have a clue where to go. I also didn’t know what to drink, which turned into everyone wanting me to drink something different and go somewhere different and asking me to choose. And I’m not good with decision making.
I wish I had a better plan of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to drink throughout the night so that I could have spent the night having fun and not trying to decide what to do next.
3. Actually try to remember your first legal drink.
This one I actually did, so I don’t wish I did it differently, but it is something I suggest to everyone else on their 21st. My first legal drink was a jumbo shot made with 17 different liquors. It was basically pure evil and started my night off with quite a kick, but it sure was memorable. And I’m glad I can look back and say that was my first drink, not a rum and coke. I would suggest that you think about the kind of flavors you prefer in your everyday foods to help you determine what kind of drink you should have.
4. Don’t invite the world out and instead stick with a smaller group of your closest friends.
This one will depend on the person, but for me, I wish I had a smaller group with me. I had a large group of friends and family following me around for the night, which was super exciting and fun, but it also got hectic.
Everyone was pulling me in different directions and I felt responsible for everyone since it was my party. Looking back, if I had a smaller group with me I think I might have enjoyed my night a little bit more.
5. Try a ‘challenge.’
After my birthday, I started to see different challenges on Pinterest, like 21 things to do on your 21st birthday. Some of my favorites included things like get 21 high fives, dance to “It’s Your Birthday” and get the bar to sing Happy Birthday to you. These all seem like things that would have made the night so memorable.
Of course, my night was exciting, but it was also basically the same as every other night I’ve spent at a bar since then, minus the “birthday girl” sash. I wish I did a challenge like this to make the night unique, plus it would make a great story!
6. Take more pictures!
One thing I didn’t do enough was take pictures. My best friend took a few pictures of me when I wasn’t looking, which was awesome of her because they are great memories now, but I wish I had even more! I’d love to have a whole collection of pictures I could flip through to remember the night by, so I wish I took more pictures and had other people take more pictures for me.
7. Stay away from social media.
I spent quite a bit of time on social media during my time out. Whether it was checking my Facebook notifications or updating my Twitter status to show how drunk I was, I wish I spent more time in the moment rather than sharing everything online. I definitely could have waited to share the pictures I did take until the next day!
8. Don’t have any regrets.
The main thing I wish I did differently is exactly the opposite of what I’m doing right now. I wish I didn’t regret anything from that night! I keep looking back and thinking what I could have done differently, but my best advice to anybody who is yet to have their 21st is just to enjoy it as much as possible and take it for what it is. It’s a really special and fun night, so let loose, be safe and have fun!