Happy birthday! You've just turned 18. Woah! That's a big one. Time to take on a whole new range of responsibilities — you're an adult now. Say goodbye to having legal and financial guardians. From now on, if you do anything wrong the consequences come directly back to you (YAY!). You might even be responsible for your own food, clothing, and shelter. Welcome to the world - now fly from the nest and try to take care of yourself.
It's a lot of added responsibility, but you also have a range of opportunities that are now available to you. Along comes your birthday and BAM... you can suddenly do pretty much anything. You can vote, join the military, get married, ADOPT A CHILD, or even buy a house. That's a lot of power for an 18-year-old!
But, guess what? You still can't have a drink.
That's right, go ahead and buy a pack of cigarettes but don't you dare step foot in a bar or night club! (Oh wait, I forgot about Rounders — you can go there, just make sure you pay the $20 underage cover).
In the US, the legal drinking age is 21. For those of you who struggle in the maths department, that's three years after gaining every other level of responsibility. By 21, we have pretty much experienced every form of adulthood and had some crazy experiences (most of us would have been through college), and yet we're expected to not touch alcohol until this point. Where is the logic in that?
The silliest part in all of this is that almost everyone has consumed alcohol before they turn 21, and this is very common knowledge. I don't think I've ever met an American who has waited until they were 21 to drink. Instead, high school and college parties are filled with underage kids recklessly consuming alcohol. Can you blame them? They've had no safe environment to drink or learn their limit in the past. They've grown up having to hide it, creating a much more dangerous atmosphere.
If it's going to happen regardless (and I can guarantee you it is going to happen), why not make it openly accessible so the younger generations can be monitored? They have an insane amount of responsibilities handed to them on their 18th birthday. They're learning to be an adult, so why not let them learn how to moderately drink at the same time? I struggle to see how the act of drinking is any more of a responsibility than buying a house. It's created an environment where it's common for young adults to break the law, and where the element of secrecy has made it more dangerous.
Take a look at European countries such as Germany and Italy — they're allowed to purchase alcohol at the age of 18, and at 16 they can have a wine, beer or cider with a meal. From a young age, they learn what it's like to have a casual, responsible drink here and there, and are well aware of their limits by the time they can purchase alcohol at 18. That seems a lot more reasonable than restricting us from any form of the substance for twenty-one years, then releasing us into the world of partying and alcohol consumption - go wild!
Until this seemingly unreasonable law is changed in the US, I guess we'll have to keep watching "underage" adults ignore their limits and blackout at parties (they drop like flies, I swear!). It's about time we realized that secretive drinking is dangerous drinking.
So Happy Birthday! You're finally 18 and can cheer your nonalcoholic drink to the burden of your new found responsibilities. Enjoy adulthood with restrictions!