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There was nothing that could’ve prepared me for what I’d face once I turned 21. Would I suddenly wake up way more mature? Would I have the ability to think straight and clearly? Do all these developed adult skills come with age?

Celebrating 21 is common, but on that particular day, I didn’t get to. I was 8,000 miles away from home, it was a weekday, and I had an exam! I wish I could have been exempt from that “because it’s my birthday,” and I was going to email the professors about it, but the realization that I wasn’t the Queen of England hit me as soon as I opened my mail app.

At least I got to rest after my classes and exam that day. Magic 8 ball says, “outlook not so good.”

The morning of my 21st birthday started like all the other days, with me struggling to get out of bed and running after the bus because I almost missed it. I got lunch and just headed back to my place. I had scheduled to take an exam online that evening at the library, but when I got back, I realized I was supposed to accompany my roommate to the hospital for surgery. It was, of course, my choice to help, but there were certain things on my schedule that were supposed to happen on that day only.

It was mid-afternoon when we embarked on the journey to the hospital. I was warned that I’d be there for around four or five hours, so I brought my laptop. When we got there, the surgery was pushed back, so we just sat there talking for a few hours. My roommate was taken into the OR and I started my exam in the waiting room. I have always been all in for non-traditional ways of studying and learning, but never have I ever thought that I’d end up in a hospital waiting room, taking an exam, on my 21st birthday. This came as a surprise to me because I usually celebrate huge on all my birthdays, and this year was different. We didn’t get to leave the hospital till around 9 p.m. that night. My freshman year roommate came to pick us up at the hospital and we went downtown for some late-night Insomnia Cookies!

The weekend finally arrived and we were all equipped for my party. With the groceries we got all the way from Springfield, the prep began. Saturday morning we had to make a quick grocery store run since there were still some things we needed. The prep for the BBQ was something else. We all (around five of us) gathered in the kitchen, cutting up meat, vegetables, and peeling fruits. By the time evening came, we were all taking turns in the shower. Something about getting ready together always makes me feel like we’re living that teen sitcom life, but I’m no longer a teenager, am I?

At random times during the day, these thoughts of self-reflection popped up in my head. “Well, this is the first,” I played it off. By the end of the night, I had no brain cells left for thoughts. When everyone else was passed out on the couch and in the bedroom, I was up, thinking about what I could do to kill three hours. I sat on the toilet just blank…

Finally, it was 5:30 a.m. I had been waiting for this day for the last month! I was staying up because… drum roll, please… I had an online concert to catch. Not just any concert, a BTS CONCERT!!! The levels of emotions I went through during it was just unbelievable. I had to go to my lounge and blasted it on the big screen because I didn’t want to disturb the others asleep in my room. One thing was for sure, every time the members popped up, I found myself so mesmerized. Not only because of the looks and outfits, but because of their stage presence and the elements that they presented and focused on. There’s never a similar concert when it comes to them.

My outlook on life changed when I found BTS. I was able to be more positive and not feel down for long since.

So I guess the adult skills and positivity that I was looking for didn’t come with age, but by believing in myself, the message BTS advocates. I feel at peace knowing I have found something strong enough to keep me from plunging into the deep hole of sadness. I learned it at 21.

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Yuki Thane

U Mass Amherst '23

Yuki is a junior at UMass Amherst majoring in Informatics and Communication. Playing instruments, singing, taking pictures, writing and sketching are some things she does when she's not 6ft under readings and assignments. Anyone can find her power-walking on campus at any time jamming to BTS.
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