10 Things That Will Inevitably Happen to You When You Turn 21

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If you’ve already turned 21, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And, if you’re approaching the legal drinking age, well, my friend, you haven’t yet tasted the f-r-e-e-d-o-m that comes along with it. But, you will. And, it will be awesome—minus a few teeny-tiny setbacks.

We know turning 21 will make you a bit more broke and definitely more lazy… so let the adventurer collection do the traveling and decorating for you:

the adventurer collection

Turning 21 seems super exciting…until it actually happens.

1. Everyone will start referring to you as “an adult.”

By any modern-day standards, this is a complete and total joke. You’ve probably already driven a car, voted, worked a job, studied at a university or college, paid your own rent, dated around, and maybe – just maybe, you’ve tasted an alcoholic beverage, which would qualify you as an adult in most countries. And if you haven’t, well just get ready, because celebrating your 21st birthday has a funny way of sending you straight into adulthood.

2. You’ll also feel pretty cool, confidently showing your I.D.

Plus, you can yell, “I’ll call the cops!” whenever a doorman accuses you of using a fake. Just kidding, I’ve never done that. But, I have seen it happen on more than one occasion.

3. You can also count on being completely and totally broke.

Mainly because, for the first few weeks of being 21, you will consistently forget that you can buy drinks wherever and whenever you want. It will be a pleasant surprise every time you enter the supermarket and haphazardly grab your favorite drink on the way to the check-out. You will completely disregard how much said drink costs when compared with your college-job hourly wage.

4. You’ll end up buying a round…

…for the guys – even when you are not … a guy. Just because you can. Yep, that’s the problem when a majority of your friends are dudes and they have zero manners. You, being the fun-loving person you are, will end up offering to buy everyone drinks. As a new 21-year-old, you’re all about having a good time, despite any acceptable social norms.

5. You’ll become obsessed with the idea of ordering a giant fishbowl.

Then you’ll sip it with all of your friends and sipping it until the wee hours of the morning. Just a quick FYI in case you didn’t know: fishbowls are typically made from vodka or rum and mixed in a giant fishbowl with some kind of sugary mixer goodness. Basically, it’s every girl’s dream. However, as strongly as I feel about fishbowls and their ability to grant instant happiness, I would advise against getting too emotionally invested in your fishbowl dreams and aspirations. Your classier, hipster friends will trump you once the conversation turns to pale ales and away from your fishbowl fantasies.

6. You’ll start realizing all the times you couldn’t order a drink.

And you’ll take full advantage. In an airport. On a plane. At brunch. You’ll find yourself spenfing even more money at pricey concerts like Beyonce and Jay-Z. But, drinking those $9 and $10 Bud Lights while watching the most powerful couple in the world perform, was worth it, right?! Totally.

7. You’ll start to feel bad for your friends who are only 20… and a half.

“Being 21 isn’t that big of a deal! It’s all about convenience!” you’ll say to soothe any pre-21st sadness. However, once they turn 21, all coddling will transition into, “See? I told you! Being 21 is awesome!”

8. You’ll begin begging your friends to come drink with you.

Drinking wine alone, on a weeknight, while watching Orange is the New Black is not cool. After a few months of impulsively purchasing each and every bottle of wine that costs $10 or less, you now have a pretty impressive collection sitting unopened in your dorm room.

9. The gym will become a much bigger priority.

Unfortunately, the saying “You booze, you lose” isn’t always the case when it comes to your weight. Alcoholic beverages tend to be high in calories, but they can also cause your body’s digestive system to slow down in terms of burning fat and sugar. One tip for avoiding 21st birthday weight gain? Rotate your beverage of choice with soda water and lime in order to stay hydrated and eliminate some of those calories.

10. You’ll realize turning 21 isn’t the peak of your twenties.

The most important thing to remember about your 21st is that turning 21 doesn’t have to be the pinnacle of your adult life and it shouldn’t be. Heck, you still have a majority of your twenties left to do whatever you want. Run a marathon, land your dream job, travel to 21 countries or just burn off those extra couple of pounds you likely gained … following your 21st birthday.

11 More Things to Look Forward to Once You Turn 21

Written by Rebecca Masch

11. Politics might mean more to you

Yes, you could vote at eighteen, but did you really care about anything you were voting for? By 21, you’ve thrown off your parents’ influence completely in favor of making up your own mind. You’ll start to pay more attention when you notice the news on TV, or maybe, if you feel really invested, you’ll get an app of one or two of the news networks to stay up to date 24/7. You now realize the power your generation holds over the political system and it won’t go to waste on your watch.

12. Goodbye Light beer

Say goodbye to Bud Light and hello to any other form of drink out there. While crazy frat parties may stay your scene of choice, you’ll realize that more alcohol exists than what they provide you. Not all alcohol tastes like water. Have fun experimenting with all different kinds of beers and wines to find out where you rest on the range of “my fancy palate can only leave satisfied with this” to “I’ll take anything with the highest proof, please.”

13. Cooking becomes a bigger deal

Not only will your preferences for drinks change—food turns into a whole new world for you, as well. You’ll no longer want microwaved dinners. Every. Single. Night. Honestly, takeout will never go out of style; With as easy as it makes your life, why should it? But you may start to add in a quesadilla or pasta dish here and there that you make yourself. Your body will thank you for healthier options and you’ll have no choice but to enjoy the result since you put hard work into making it.

14. Money means more

As college students, we all know at least some of the importance of money. When you hit 21, you realize that buying those 10 new utensils on top of the cooking trays maybe wasn’t your brightest idea, even if the purchase happened to fall on Prime Day. As you rely less and less on your parents for everything else, the money will stop funneling in so easily. That can feel scary at first, but once you get the hang of saving, your bank account will never feel fuller.

15. Applications galore

Thought you had successfully ditched the pains of high school? Think again. You won’t have to deal with that backstabbing witch Tracy anymore, but the stress of applying to different schools will come right back to you. Reaching 21 means you probably have completed most of your undergraduate college career and have to start thinking about if you want to continue onto grad school, which means more applications. If not, say hello to job applications. Stressful, much?

16. Any drink you hear finds its way into your order

“I’ll have that drink over there,” will end up a phrase you use pretty frequently. And why not? Some of the best drinks you’ll have turn out as ones you try on a whim. You won’t stop there, however. “Shaken not stirred,” will definitely make its way onto your list to see about all the commotion, along with a, “nice chianti.” You may not lead the cast in a classic movie, but you can still try their drinks of choice.

17. Senior year will fly by

You’ve heard the phrase, “College is the best time of your life,” many times, but have you ever stopped to really think about it? Senior year quickly approaches and the “real world” keeps getting closer and closer despite everything you do to stave it off. Instead of running away from that change, embrace it. Yes, college may feel like an amazing experience that you’ll never successfully top, but thousands of other adventures wait for you after you throw your cap sky high.

18. You’ll realize no one else gets adulting either

In your younger years, you thought everyone magically knew what to do when they hit the title of “adult.” No longer does this illusion persist. With the realization that the real world will hit you sooner or later, you’ll start to see just how little everyone else has it together. With that in mind, walk through the randomness and toughness of life with style. By acknowledging how little you actually know, you’ll turn into one of the smartest people in the room.

19. Your job will mean more to you

Your resume won’t get any stronger with you sitting around doing nothing but drinking. You shouldn’t end up a workaholic and simply busy-bee your way through the last year of school, but you will surely start to see the importance of your job. Even if you dread coming to the restaurant every morning and serving brunch to a snotty bunch of students, every penny counts. You’ll transform into a more enthusiastic version of yourself and maybe even start to climb the ladder you keep hearing about.

20. Imagining your own place

Picture not having a roommate and having the freedom to decorate your home however you feel like, including those string lights your best friend said make the room look tacky. As your roaring twenties begin, you’ll start to imagine every piece of furniture you see as a new addition to your future home. Good luck getting through a Home Goods without stopping and admiring everything that catches your eye.

21. You might cry a lot

Memory lane tends to turn into a Slip N’ Slide of tears once you have to leave college. Senior year does tend to rush by if you don’t stop and take a look at what you’ve done. You’ll find it impossible not to in the end, when you only have one or two credits left until you polish off your degree. Time spent with your best friends will start to look like the calm before the storm. When you leave this bubble of fun, you will lean back on every memory you’ve made in school and end up that much stronger for it.

Now that you’re prepared for the inevitable, we’ve mapped out 21 ways to celebrate your 21st birthday.

Treat yo’self to some dorm decor so turning 21 doesn’t seem so bad.

hang in there tapestry

kitty cone duvet

Check out even more awesome college stuff in our shop!

*Updated August 14, 2016 with amazing college products and links to get them.

**Updated August 6, 2018 to include 11 more items by Rebecca Masch

Sophomore > News-Editorial Journalism > University of Illinois

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