I turn 21 tomorrow (today, as of the actual publishing of this post). This post could have been profound, meaningful, or at the very least relevant. But it’s going to be what it’s going to be: a brief tour of the thoughts meandering about my head on this Monday evening.
Sitting in the library of my college, there’s a girl behind me speaking an Eastern European(?) language. She’s being a little loud for the likes of the woman seated across from her, but she takes no notice. And the woman doesn’t do anything more than scowl over at her.
What does it feel like to be 21? Our society says that’s when we’re legally adults. We can be tried as adults when we turn 18, but at 21 we’re trusted to “drink responsibly” in public places. Funny, our system of rites of passage. We can drive a metal death machine at age 16, but can’t be trusted to make national political choices for another two years. We also have to wait this long before we’re able to decide whether or not that “Edward + Bella 4EVER” tattoo will stay looking good on our lower back for the rest of our lives. At 18, we can apply for an apartment lease, or to be exotic dancers, or buy cigarettes. We can even decide to tie the knot without our parents’ consent.
And then we can’t take so much as a sip of social ethanol until three more years after that. It’s really no sensible system at all.
In some cultures, we’re adults when we’re 13 or when we hit puberty – when our voices and bodies change. For girls, when we start to bleed. In this grand old culture of the U.S. of A., all we have are arbitrary distinctions. One day, you can be sent to juvie. The next day, you can be condemned to death by a jury of your peers. What a mess.
In Taiwan, where my family is from, and in many other countries, there virtually is no drinking age restriction. It may be different from social group to social group, but in public restaurants and properties, no one really gives much mind to how old you are when you drink. And is it a surprise that alcoholism here and in such countries is lower than that of the United States? When will we as a society learn that forced prohibition never sustainably works?
The girl’s quiet now. I feel self-conscious typing so loudly now.
I have nothing planned for this momentous birthday. I hear that all birthdays after this one aren’t even worth celebrating (or lamenting). Maybe the decade birthdays. How depressing. Soon, I’ll be able to go into those places with the NO MINORS signs. “Haha,” I’ll think, grinning from ear to ear, “I am no longer a minor in this society. Fiddle dee dee.”
Whoop di doo?
Seriously, when will the actual feeling of adulthood start creeping into my head? As far as I know, I’m still a kid. I’m still a wandering pup in a big wide world still looking for a warm belly when I can. Just because the invisible law of this country deems me to be an “adult,” doesn’t mean I am one. It doesn’t mean I’ll ever really feel like one. Society’ll do all it can to pile on bills, taxes, 8-to-5 jobs, and other “adult responsibilities” to trick me into thinking I’m one. Who in our culture is truly mature? I feel like we’re all domesticated puppy dogs – a culture of unrealized wolves. It’s all a farce.
It is just way too quiet now. What is this, a library or something?
Can someone help me contain my excitement?
But look at this, I’m being such a bore, such a yumm yucker. I know I’ll have enjoy myself – if not on my birthday, then later on in life. Christ, I’ve already had a great deal of fun. There’s nothing to complain about (without getting existentially angsty). Being 21 and beyond is going to be pretty all right. Also, the quiet life sounds nice, but even moderation needs to be taken into moderation. The party-hardy and rave scene will never by my regular diet, but it sure sounds like fun to try out here and there like Grandma’s super fatty, ultra salty, so damn bad yet so damn good home cooking. We can be in danger of having too much ice cream, but we can also be in danger of having too much broccoli as well.
Here is where I sigh a sigh of resignation and acceptance. Adulthood’s going to have to be taken just like everything else. One step at a time. And what the heck do I know? I’m still a baby. I still got time to be proven right (but hopefully oh, so wrong. Hopefully.) And I’m going to put this one last thing out there, that no matter how introverted anyone is, they should soak their big toe out in the waves just once [in a while] at the very least. Really, we only live once, as the kids say. And that’s all I my wandering mind has to say about that.
So Happy Birthday, Sigmund Freud, George Clooney, and Maximilien Robespierre. May 6th is going to be a lovely day. Even if it didn’t work out so well for the Hindenburg.
Oh, she’s started talking on the phone again. I don’t feel so bad anymore.
I may have posted this before, but it’s a video worth watching at least twice.
Do you remember turning 21? And if you aren’t yet there, what are your feelings on looming “adulthood?”