Bonnie: Being the first to turn 21
Last year, after my older sister graduated from Oregon State University, my parents took me, her and her boyfriend out to dinner. The restaurant we went to was absolutely packed with parents and their newly graduates, so naturally we had to wait for a table. With such a small seated waiting area, my dad decided that we should just wait at the bar. Within seconds, the bartender comes up to me and asks for my I.D. It was like the bartender had a sixth sense to determine who was underage. With a charming smile, I explained to him that we were just waiting for a table, and I was with my parents, after all. He told me that I had to find another place to sit and wait.
I was 20 years old, but at that moment, I felt like I was 10. I felt stupid and childish as my mom and I left the bar to wait away from the rest of my family. I would be turning 21 in 6 months, and at that moment, I felt like my birthday couldn’t come quick enough.
Despite this incident, there was a huge part of me that dreaded my 21st birthday. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to be able to flash my license at the next bartender who tries to dismiss me as a minor. I was excited to finally be able to drink with my parents at restaurants or have a beer with my dad while at a hockey game. I was super excited, yet so not at the same time.
I was born in November. Everyone born in the months of September through December are either way older or way younger than everyone else in their grade. My mom opted to have me be older than everyone else. I always loved this about my birthday. In elementary and middle schools being older made me feel cooler than my younger classmates. It was only until college that I realized what an annoyance my birthday was.
In the months leading up to my 21st birthday, I started thinking about who the hell was going to go out to the bars with me. All of my friends were younger than me, and the ones that weren’t, were back in my hometown. I felt like my birthday was going to be a massive failure if I didn’t go to the bars. So for this reason, my birthday didn’t excite me anymore.
I turned 21 on Monday, November 16th , and it was probably the most anticlimactic moment of my life. For one thing, it was a Monday. Who wants to party on a Monday? Because I certainly didn’t. For another, I still had no one to go out with. I, instead, went to dinner with my boyfriend, where I ordered a mojito (wahoo first legal drink), and afterwards, had a quiet night in with my friends. Happy freakin’ 21st birthday to me. I mean it was a nice evening, but I couldn’t help feeling lame.
Which was ridiculous. I had a nice goddamn birthday so why should I have felt like such a loser just because I didn’t get trashed at some sticky bar that would have been empty anyway? I have an old acquaintance from my hometown that also went to school at the University of Oregon. When she wished me a happy birthday, she asked me if I was going to Taylor’s. I lied saying that I was because I didn’t want to seem lame because instead of binge-drinking I was going to be binge-watching Netflix.
We live in a culture that glorifies partying and binge-drinking so much that spending a Saturday night in is almost looked down upon. And spending a 21st birthday in? Well, that just makes you look like you have zero social life. It’s not fair that we are expected to have a crazy 21st birthday and if we don’t, that makes us almost like a failure.
I know that I’m not the only person that is the oldest in their groups of friends. There are certain perks, of course, but I felt like I missed out on the typical 21st birthday drink fest. So to all you people who, like me, feel like they won’t have anyone to go out with on their 21st birthday, believe me, I feel your pain. Someone always has to be the first.
Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.