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What They Don’t Tell You About Turning 21…

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Tampa chapter.

Turning 21 years old, I celebrated in the US like a big birthday because it is the point in a person’s life where they are legally considered an adult. This turns out to be, for a majority of people, their way to drink their night out on their birthday since they are also legally able to drink too. Most people talk about turning 21 as a magical thing or something to be extra excited about. However, I am not saying you shouldn’t be excited for your birthday, but turning 21 years old comes with downsizes that not a lot of people recognize. You are expected to act and think like an adult, but in reality, being 21 years old is the awkward phase between being an adult and a teenager at the same time.

By the law, you are an adult, and society expects you to act like it. But my question is, what is an adult in their vocabulary? Is it having a 9 to 5 job and a balanced social, professional, and personal life? Or, maybe, it is knowing what you are doing or what you are going to be doing with your life. Let me just say that if someone at 21 years old has all these or is “successful” based on society’s standards, they should reach out to me and my best friends because we are nowhere near being “complete” adults. For example, most of them work and go to college or just go to college, live with their parents or away from home, and have a “9 to 5” schedule (sometimes more than that). Yet get excited about the new Percy Jackson book, chocolate milk, crush on fictional characters, call our parents because we don’t know how to cook meat, etc. I think it is hilarious how we have such a duality at this age, as well as how different people have a totally different experience at this age. For example, I know of people getting married and starting families at this age while I am like, yeah, I can pay all my bills, work, and study, but I will go to a store and get crayons and a coloring book. 

While being 21 years old is fun, it has some heaviness to it. Mentally and physically, it can be exhausting at times. Society puts a lot of pressure on what and who we should be. It plays with your brain to make you think you are failing at life and that everyone has it figured out. However, one thing I have learned at 21 years old is to appreciate the little things, such as randomly coming across your friend on campus because you both are so busy that you can’t go out. Another lesson has been that it is okay to spend money on something for you and not just on bills and groceries, whether it is getting an ice cream or a new book. Life is expensive, but knowing that it is okay to spend money too, as long as it’s within your budget, by this I mean that you know you can afford it. It is also okay if you don’t like going out like everyone else. Do whatever makes you happy and comfortable. I would rather spend a Friday night in my apartment with a good dinner or dessert rather than go to a bar, but that is just me. Finding out what works for you is great. But it does not mean you crack the code. I have days that I am like, “Okay I got this,” and then I have days of, “What the fish is happening?!”.

So, for you reader: I hope this article does not make you feel depressed, frustrated, or stressed, but in reality, it makes you feel understood. I hope you understand that what you are feeling is okay and normal, even if no one admits it. Life is scary and hard sometimes and happy and fun other times. Learn to cherish the bad times like you do the good times, not only because they teach you lessons for the future but also because they teach you how cool, amazing, and hardworking a person you are. No matter what you are feeling or going through right now, I will say to you: “You are doing good! Don’t give up just yet. You got this even when you think you don’t”. Take one day at a time, and remember to smile at the world. 

Anngelyk M. La Luz Maldonado is a writer at Her Campus at Tampa Chapter. As a Her Campus writer, her articles cover topics revolving life experiences and entertainment. Aside from Her Campus, Anngelyk is a senior at the University of Tampa majoring in Marine Science/Biology with a minor in Environmental Science. She works for the Department of Biology as a head mentor for the general biology (199L) lab and an office assistant. Anngelyk, also, is a researcher at the Durkin Lab working to gain better understanding of Macrocheles sp. mites. When not writing or studying, Anngelyk enjoys watching Asian dramas, listening to music, and reading. She likes to read books about high-fantasy, mystery solving, and lately she is into romance books such as “Love, Theoretically” by Ali Hazelwood. She also enjoys spending time with her friends and calling her family.