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As many of you have become aware of, we are all going to have to social distance during our birthdays. Recently, I turned 21, which was really big for me, personally. All young adults in the United States look forward to turning this age because we can finally partake in adult beverages. However, I realized that I would have to take COVID-19 into my plans. So, I took the entire week off of work. Some of you may question why I would do that. The answer is simple, relaxation. I usually work a lot, and I am an essential worker. I deal with a lot of complaints from customers that refuse to follow safety precautions, and I wear a mask all day long. This break was something I needed.

During this time, I did several things; I met up with friends while following safety guidelines. I never went out in a large crowd or invited a group of people exceeding the limit of ten to my apartment. As much as I wanted to visit family, I feel like it was not the safest to do at this time because of the risk of giving my family coronavirus. I feel like this made me learn a lot of things, such as sacrifice and how to take precautions. I realized during this time that my birthday celebrations could easily be replaced, but someone’s life could not (if they were to contract a disease from one of my birthday gatherings). 

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However, onto the more fun things. Tuesday night, the day before my birthday, I just relaxed and played video games for the night after my long shifts from the weekend. One of my childhood friends came up for the end of the week on my birthday. It was amazing to have her come up because I could not spend the holiday with my family in my hometown. I went to the Virginia ABC Store and bought a glass. In addition, I also went to the convenience store and got an assortment of beverages. We celebrated with my roommates and a couple of other friends. Then on Thursday, my friend and I went to a smoke shop because, as many of you know, the smoking age in Virginia has increased to 21. So I wanted to relive my right to buy tobacco products again. On Friday, my friend left, and I just recharged my social battery for the remainder of my time off.

This birthday meant a lot to me, even though I did not get to celebrate with family or to my full vision. I learned a lot from it. Last year, I was at a lower point in my life, and I feel like this birthday and the entire year following it has made me heal and learn a lot. I feel like my birthday was closing a chapter of my life, and I stepped out into a new and better chapter. Turning 20 seemed like adulthood, but 21 makes me feel like I am getting better at itif that makes sense. 

Kaitlyn Austin is a senior majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Civil Rights. She is always in the library doing homework with her friends.
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