Turning 21: A Reflection

I love birthdays. Mine, others’—they’re all great. They’re just a perfect reminder of how we should always take out time to celebrate life and the wonderful individuals that have made our own lives better.

Birthdays are also a great time to reflect on the previous year and how you have grown. I found myself doing a lot of reflecting on my 21st birthday, which was just a couple weeks ago. But more than that, I thought about where I’d be going from here.

Generally, I am a fearful person. And I’m mostly fearful about the future. It’s filled with so many unknowns and things I can’t control. I’ll be graduating in less than a year, and that’s terrifying. I have no idea what I’ll be doing after school! But for the first time this birthday, I felt really excited about it. Not only is the senioritis hitting (yeah, I’ve discovered I truly hate school), but I’ve decided I must travel after graduation. There is so much to see in the world—even in the United States!—and I don’t want to waste my life away staring at a computer screen. Not when I have the privilege and freedom to do otherwise.

Even before graduation, there is the rest of school to think about, and this summer! Just this year I have made so many great new friends, and the friendships I already had have grown deeper. I feel more independent than I ever have, but it’s nice to know that I have some amazing people I can lean on and grab coffee with whenever I might need a pick-me-up. I can’t wait for warmer weather and more free time to spend with them. Plus, many of them live elsewhere, so I look forward to road trips filled with good music.

My birthday celebrations were the most fun I have had because of those friends. I celebrated how I wanted to—there is a typical way to go about celebrating a 21st birthday; going out, getting smashed, regretting it in the morning. But I had the most fun doing a movie night and popping champagne at midnight. The next day we got ready for dinner to a bunch of throwback jams. It’s nice to know that no matter how old I get, it will always be so fun dancing to Lizzie McGuire and High School Musical. I’m still a kid at heart, and for the first time I realized it’s more than okay for me to feel like a child and an adult all mixed in one.

As far as the adult in me, I had my first full drink at dinner on my birthday! I can honestly say I’ve only ever really had sips of anything. I was never really interested in alcohol—I found other ways to have fun—but there’s something exciting in having that curiosity about drinks now. I like being able to try drinks for their taste and pick out what I like and dislike, rather than having drank through high school and college so that I just drank to get drunk. I don’t shame you if that’s what you do, but I’m happy with the way I did it.

The only negative thing I have learned about being 21 is how young I must look (What is it that makes me look so young? Please, do tell.). When I was out to dinner—with my family—the waitress felt the need to double check my ID and show it to several other people who worked at the restaurant. Everyone says it will be a blessing when I’m thirty, but right now it feels like I’m being cheated. “Please take me seriously!” I feel like shouting all the time.

But as of late—despite my apparently youthful appearance—I have felt like I am being taken seriously. It’s scary, but it’s also so worth it. I’ve been attempting to fill out applications for internships. I don’t know if it’ll happen for me this summer, but that makes me determined to pursue my own writing projects. I am so excited to be a writer, presently, and in the future. Great things are going to happen, no matter how successful or messy or determined I may or may not be, and that’s a good feeling.

No matter what age I’m turning, it’s always great to have a day to spend with friends and family loving on me (isn’t it such a great feeling to be loved?). Each year is filled with new adventures, and I can’t wait to see what 21 brings me.