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You’re 21! Now What?

Congratulations, you just recently turned 21! I’m assuming that you have many expectations of what this means, namely that you are going to be drowning in beer and liquor like someone who just lost their job. You also probably think that doing that will be awesome.

Unfortunately, as someone who recently turned 21 himself, I can tell you that’s not necessarily the case. Sure, turning 21 is awesome, but like anything in life, there is what you expect to happen and what actually happens. For example:

EXPECTATION: You are suddenly Big (Wo)Man on Campus because you can go to any bar or club and get yo’ drank on.

REALITY: Remember Tyler Durden’s “you are not special” rant from “Fight Club”? Yeah. Turning 21 is great, but just because you can go to Indigo, get annihilated, and make an ass out of yourself doesn’t make you any more special from the tens of thousands of other people at Penn State who also have that ability.

EXPECTATION: The sweet elixir of beer will taste better now that you can drink it legally.

REALITY: Beer is beer. The main difference is you don’t have to pay an of-age buddy to go spend gobs of money to buy it for you (or, if you’re a smart female, you don’t have to pay off the guy who you know has a crush on you and will do anything you want him to). You can go bankrupt yourself! Wanna buy a $7 layered drink from Kildare’s? Or a $45 case from Pletcher’s? By all means, do it. Just don’t expect beer, wine, or liquor to taste any different now that you can drink it legally.

EXPECTATION: Horrible things are going to happen to your body/wallet.

REALITY: Okay, this is true and it sucks. Beer makes you gain weight. Hangovers are still God’s way of telling you that you drank too much. And your wallet? I’ve been 21 for a week and I’ve essentially turned into this guy (minus the magnificent singing voice). Running to Sheetz to use their ATM kills you in the long run. As does prolonged alcohol consumption. But you knew that already.

EXPECTATION: Busting out your ID to shut up that annoying waiter/waitress at (INSERT ANY RESTAURANT EVER HERE) who refuses to believe you are of age is strangely rewarding.

REALITY: It’s actually a pain in the ass. The first few times, yeah, awesome. But after a few days, you kinda wish there was a less annoying way to prove your age. Also, if you’re like me, your PA driver’s license expired the day after you turned 21, and waitresses at Otto’s won’t serve you booze if that happens. The struggle. It is real.

EXPECTATION: Your 21st birthday is a shit show.

REALITY: Your 21st is what you make of it. If you want to have a few beers, but stay sober for the most part, awesome. If you want to go to the Phyrst, get the hat, and get so drunk that you wake up on a bus to Memphis, equally awesome. It’s 100 percent what you make of it. Just make sure you have friends with money so that you rack up a tab that comes out to $10 or less. I spent $0 on my birfday because my friends refused to let me pay for anything. Find friends like that.

EXPECTATION: You can do whatever you want on your birthday and nobody will care because you just turned 21.

REALITY: I have bad news — the list of people who care that you just turned 21 is really short. Mostly just your family and friends. Beyond that, there aren’t many people who care. A lot of places downtown won’t serve you liquor the day of your birthday. You can’t suddenly become a jackass (ex: breaking mugs at a bar, being mean to people who work at Taco Bell) and use the “it’s my birthday” excuse. Just because people who care about you will put up with your drunken shenanigans doesn’t mean anyone else will. Have fun, just don’t be an ass while you do it.

EXPECTATION: Turning 21, for the most part, is awesome.

REALITY: It is. Everyone is different. Some people like to enjoy the casual beer at Zeno’s, some like to go to G-Man and get Lohan-drunk. Some like to spread beer out throughout the day, some like to get annihilated at midnight. Some people don’t drink at all. All of those options are cool. Seriously. You can do anything you want now other than rent a car, book a cruise, run for POTUS, or commit a crime. Live it up. Have fun. You’re 21 now.

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About the Author


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