11 Things I Want On My 21st Birthday Instead Of A Free Drink

11 Things I Want On My 21st Birthday Instead Of A Free Drink

I'm not talking about alcohol

There is this very strong idea that your 21st birthday has to be one to remember, even though you were too drunk to do so. They expect you to go nuts and drink until you are blue, figuratively and literally. I hear people constantly telling of their great 21st birthday endeavors, but they never seemed to appeal to me. I think that there is more to celebrate being 21 other than the ability to drink in public.

There are so many possibilities at this age. You can be spontaneous and unapologetically happy. You can set the world on fire. You can take no prisoners. I think being 21 should embody more than alcohol and party. I mean let's be honest, college has left none of us naive. I don't think there is a magical difference in the taste or effects of liquor from the day before your 21st or the day after.

I am not saying that I won't indulge or have fun, so to speak. I will, in fact, have so much fun - with or without alcohol. I want to remember my 21st and look back at all the friendships I made and the great quality of life I had before it is just a distant memory.

So, for my 21st birthday I want:

1. Peace.

When I blow out the candles this year, the greatest thing I can wish for is peace. Whether it's peace in my own mind, personal life, or worldwide. There is so much confusion and hostility in the world right now, that I think peace is a great birthday wish. From a personal point of view, I wish for peace in my situations and peace in my heart.

2. Maturity.

One thing I have learned about being in college is that I know absolutely nothing. I have always been told that I am mature beyond my years and a "grown-up kid", but with more and the more things I experience, the more I learn about myself. I wish for maturity this year because I am not just a young 21 year old, I am also a fricken grown up now.

3. A puppy.

A puppy will definitely be on my wish list.

4. Men to act like men.

Please, for the love of Oreos and milk, can "men" start acting like actual men. It is so sad, actually, that most boys in college are not actually men. They act like children and want to treat girls like they are big men. They don't take no for an answer and they "get what they want."

They take advantage of girls, not just sexually, but in a sense where they make you feel bad for not giving them answers to their homework. This is not a generalization about all "men," but for my birthday I wish that they can act more like real men.

5. Money.

Cha-Ching baby! No, but seriously I really want some cold hard cash for my birthday. Money might not buy happiness, but it sure does take away the extra stress of rent, utilities, gas, and my Chinese takeout fund.

6. Candles.

If I had to describe myself as an object, it would be a candle. It is glowing and warm, but don't get too close because I'll burn you. A candle is a hug in a jar; home in a container; and a story of a lifetime burned over and over. Plus I am a personal fan of pumpkin smells and it's that time of year.

7. A pantsuit.

There is nothing more empowering than walking into a room of men dressed in a pantsuit and heels with a glow that you're going to show them. A true mark of womanhood in my mind. Feminine and fierce.

8. Courage.

I actually ask for this every year. Every month. Every week. Every morning. This year at age 21 it is crucial that I be courageous. I am coming into my shoes, and I need to be humble and hard working. As I kill my twenties, I am hopeful that I will be able to find my passions and work for them. Courage to me is also the ability to fall over and over but stand every time with the hope of standing. Bring on 21.

9. Relationships that matter.

I'm not talking about romantic (although I wouldn't oppose) relationships. I do not have time to waste on people who aren't there for me, and I also don't want to waste time on people I don't care for. This is not being mean, but rather being honest in the sense of knowing what I want. I am so grateful for the friends I have now and those who lift me up. For my birthday, I want to spend my time with those I love and forget those who I do not deserve my love.

10. Something homemade.

Surprisingly, I am not a huge fan of the idea of gift buying. I do, however, like gift giving. Yes, they are different. There is something so special and bonding about hearing someone say, "I saw this and thought of you". I would much rather receive a gift made from the heart that is personal and thoughtful than a gift card to Panera Bread.

11. Hugs.

Okay, okay. I am NOT a hugger, but that is something I plan to work on this year. There is something so powerful about wrapping your arms around another person ( wow this doesn't sound creepy). A hug is a single gesture that means way more than words. I will do my best to spread my unspoken love to others. So please, if you see me, give me a hug.

If you literally can't think of anything else to get me of my birthday, I would not be opposed to a glass, lime, and salt - the rest can be implied.

Cover Image Credit: Etsy

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.


I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.


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