Since I started kindergarten, I’ve been on the younger end of the age spectrum, turning the next age around the first day of school and watching everyone turn a year older than me throughout the year.
Most of the time, it’s a great bragging right. I’m young, and I’m doing the exact same thing the older kids are doing. Now that I’ve graduated a year early, I imagine it’ll continue to feel the same way, at least for a few years.
The negatives came in the form of restrictions.
The first age limit I bumped into was the one for getting my ears pierced at 12. Then there was the driver’s license debacle of 16 and legal pay at my job as a camp counselor and lifeguard as a technical minor younger than 18. The last milestone I cared about was 21 — the infamous drinking age.
As a result of my birthday, I was the last person in most of my friend groups to turn 21. So when the waiter carded a table of us at a bar Tuesday night, it was more of a victory than usual as we handed him our IDs and everyone bought pints.
Because it was finally everyone. I was finally a part of the majority. I celebrated with a couple shots, a margarita the size of my head and a few beers I’d never tried before.
It was a perfect night. I was able to get rather drunk in a town I know better than any other with a group of close friends, so I was safe.
That’s something I’m giving up when I move abroad. I’ll still be the youngest in my class of future ESL teachers, but I won’t know the area or be able to trust anyone like I can friends I’ve kept for years.
Letting my guard down won’t be an option. I’m not going to sleep with a knife in my hand or anything, but constant vigilance will me my best friend.
For now, I’m now free to do everything I want in the U.S., and I’ll take advantage of that until the plane takes off.