Your daughter: Mom, these are really cool pictures of your college.
You: Yeah, way back when. Soon you’ll be in college, too.
Your future daughter: Ugh. I know, two more years! Wait, what’s that? Are those your underwear?
You: Maybe we should put away this album and go watch a movie…
Your future daughter: You’re dancing on that table upside down! Woah! Is that how you acted every day in college?
You: No, that was my 21st birthday, I think. I had a lot to drink, don’t really remember it.
Your future daughter: Yeah, mom, maybe you should have slowed down a bit! [walks away laughing]
You: [face red]
I’m not sure why people think that the 21st birthday is a milestone that ought to not be remembered. Sure, it can be exciting to finally reach that day when you no longer have to worry about whether or not the bouncer at a club or the bartender at the restaurant is going to smell out your fake I.D. ; but the celebration should be about more than blacking out and spending the night with your head in a toilet.
Alcohol can be invited to your party, but don’t let it be the center of attention. You should hold the spotlight and soak in the thrill of the company of your friends, the event you have planned, concert you are attending, meal you are sharing, or road trip you are taking. Here are some other ideas of things you can do to make your 21st birthday special to you, not just the people in the bar that you offered free drinks to (but forgot about):
• Go retro: Have a sleepover or throw an 80’s themed party. You’ll remember it not only because of the silly costumes everyone will be wearing, but because a game of Truth or Dare gets much more spicy after a few margaritas or glasses of wine. Classy drinking, and you can still bond with your girlfriends!
• Go classic: For my birthday, I got dressed up and went to dinner with my best guy friend at my favorite restaurant then went to a small theater downtown and saw a film It was special to me because I got to bond with him and do all the things I truly love (eat and watch movies); plus, the intimate settings made it so that the alcohol involved only made us tipsy and not really act insane!
• Go away: Take a trip to Vegas or to Europe with some family members or close friends and be charmed by your days away in a foreign land. Nothing says, “I’m a year older” then experiencing a new culture—whether this new culture involves gambling or gondolas is really up to you!
I’m 23, and some of my friends don’t remember their 21st birthday, when it happened only 2 years ago. I didn’t want that to be me, and it isn’t. Furthermore, I don’t want to be the girl described in the opening scenario, where there are pictures but I have no recollection of the wild events.
There are many more, less embarrassing, ways to turn 21. Find them, plan them, and choose them. Your birthday should be memorable, not a blurry haze, like most movies and people will have you believe.