While there are no guarantees for what you may come across in your college experiences, one thing is for certain: you’re going to get older. While the first ten birthdays of your life may have been consumed by baseball cards and Pogs, the birthdays you enjoy in your collegiate years are bound to be the most physically taxing, dangerous, and overall the most fun. So without further ado, I’d like to take a step back and go year-by-year through a typical college experience, and give everyone a brief rundown of what to expect on each birthday you encounter.
18 Years Old
First of all, what the fuck. If you aren’t turning 18 until college, you should genuinely be upset with your parents’ lack of prenatal planning. There are always a few friends or brothers you will meet that have been cursed by the late birthday, and it is never more obvious than in this initial year. While normal students spend their first year of college bar hopping, sketchily buying beer with an ID of a 26 year old Asian, and accumulating as much tobacco and porn they can get their 18 year old hands on, the younger student is forced to stay behind consumed by his pathetic aura of shame. Don’t worry, man, it isn’t your fault, it’s your parents’. The best advice I can give is think a little bit harder down the road when you’re actually a parent, and at least give your kids a few month’s head start in the whole “legally an adult” thing.
19 Years Old
For the normal 90% of college students, this will be your first birthday spent on campus. Translation: you have no idea what the fuck to do. You may be starting to get a slight grasp on the college lifestyle, but chances are that area in your mind only consists of “What kind of cleaner is best for the Fraternity house floors?” So, naturally, your typical 19th birthday is spent in an odd scramble between the dorms, the fraternity house, and a bar of your choosing (assuming you can even get in). You’ll have fun, sure, but your limitations as a Freshman make it extremely difficult to capitalize on your day of birth. You still have to sneak every drink in the bar bathroom, you still are considered less significant than pond scum by the Fraternity brothers, and your upperclassmen game consists of being designated a Senior sorority girl’s “Pet Freshman.” As far as birthdays go, this one is fairly mediocre, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to have a hell of a time and get drunk in the process. Enjoy it, you’re just one step closer to the big one.
20 Years Old
Ah, the proverbial “cocktease birthday.” You finally understand the inner workings of your college town, you aren’t a pledge, and you’re chill to pull ratio is finally breaking into the realm of “impressive.” You know it all: what bar to go to at 7 P.M. on a Wednesday, the best way to pick up a girl at the bar, and how to best capitalize on your borderline amphetamine addiction. That’s right, you are a legend on campus…except one thing. You still can’t legally drink. All of this knowledge goes to waste when you are forced to rely on an ID that’s 50 pounds lighter than you, two inches taller than you, and 60% less Caucasian than you. Good luck with that one, champ.
So, yes, 20 is a good birthday because it’s the first one where you can walk around like an arrogant asshole who knows everything, and not get your face pushed into the ground for it. But, as previously stated, it’s “cocktease” persona dominates all, and while you will certainly have a blast after completing your second decade of life, by the end of the night you will be aching for your 21st to arrive.
This is it, the one you’ve been waiting for ever since you mustered the courage to ask a foul-smelling homeless man to pick you up a six pack outside the Kwik-Stop in high school. You are now free to supplement the alcoholic tendencies you’ve picked up to your heart’s content. No more worries about fake IDs, undercover cops, and all the potential arrests that come with the two. As far as birthdays go, this is obviously the big one in college and you should treat it as such. Your 21st romp should include as many bars and as many shots as possible, as doing anything less is only an injustice to yourself. By the third hour of this festival of debauchery, if you can still remember your mother’s maiden name you’re doing it wrong.
Every birthday past 21 has a natural amount of “suck” associated with it, no matter what. It’s common knowledge that each birthday you spend in college after 21 is naturally going to pale in comparison to your 21st, that’s just the way it is. But the beauty of these later birthdays is they are what you make them. If you’re anything like me, you just treat these birthdays as the “__ Anniversary of my 21st” and do your best to replicate the shitshow-to-end-all-shitshows of the last benchmark birthday. The real world is getting close, guys, and you’re not going to be able to combine 14 Whiskey Drinks, 20mg of Adderall, and a can of Wintergreen Grizzly in a single night for much longer. Might as well take advantage now.
Whatever the birthday, I think you’re starting to see a common theme here: You are going to get dangerously intoxicated, and probably do a few things you’ll regret the next day. Fear not, because “it was my birthday” is the most credible excuse possible. For 24 hours a year, you literally possess a “get out of jail free” card, and hold no liability over your actions, no matter how heinous they may be. Your best bet is to capitalize on this as much as possible, you only get so many chances.