Louise Dolby

I was always told my 20s, particularly my 21st year, was going to be a blur of friends and faces, parties and the social epitome of my youth. Movies and magazines promised bars and clubs were great places that churned out as much fun as I could handle.

But being 21 wasn’t all it was hyped up to be.

It’s not like I didn’t do all the things you were supposed to do when turning 21 – I got drunk on my birthday, loved being carded every time I went out for a drink and even embraced the idea that I was officially an adult. Yet, looking back as a newly turned 22-year-old, all those “privileges” feel so juvenile.

Worse, I’ve realized that my 21st year was probably better than most. It was a whirl of happy hours, drunken friends and an occasional concert and dance-fest; but I expected a new world to open up. The stuff we’re supposed to do when we’re 21, namely the bars, beers and endless partying, just didn’t float my 21-year-old boat. In reality, the only thing people receive when they become of legal drinking age is a hangover.

When you’re young, turning 21 meant that you made it past high school and finally free of age-restricted activities. The truth is, while you’re free to drink in the bars and purchase as much beer as you can carry, the glitz and glamour of 21 wears off quicker than a buzz from Natural Ice.

Being a legal drinker also puts you into a new social pool. Instead of getting tipsy off beer with your buddies at a house party, chances are, you’ll probably be out partying with other disappointed 21-year-olds and complaining about how crowded “your” bar is becoming. While drinking in bars provides opportunities to meet other legal drinkers, don’t hold your breath at the prospect of finding the love of your life at happy hour or while doing body shots at Mother’s Tavern.

Soon after my recent birthday I began thinking about how blase being 21 can be, and now I’m thirsty for something different – older. While it may sound boring, or even pretentious, the prospect of a glass of wine and a Vogue magazine seems more pleasurable to me now than hitting the bars. I may be jaded, but right now, I can only dream of what my life will be like next year.

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