Is 21 all that it seems?

RYE

You’ve waited two long years for this. Languishing in your dormitory, lamenting how you can’t, yet, partake in the exotic world known only to those older than 20. You’d sit by your window — this scenario doesn’t quite work if you have an indoor Eickhoff room, though you probably do your fair share of window watching — and contemplate the rollicking time, (or if you are an art or English major, the potential Gatsby-themed ‘musings’) you’re missing.

Ok, so hopefully it wasn’t this dramatic of an experience. I hope you went outside or read a book instead. But most likely, in some capacity, you were excited by the prospect of drinking — legally. The possibilities for activity expand infinitely — you can now have a beer in the Rat. It’s like your whole life has led up to this gloriously mediocre moment.

There are some crucial differences between drinking legally on campus and in your off-campus home. For one, on campus, you need to make sure you are not remotely close to anyone who is not 21. Off campus, there isn’t a CA or RA to check — disclaimer: Providing alcohol to minors is illegal. This being said, what you really need to worry about is next-door neighbors and whether or not they will call the police on you if they even suspect a potential “gathering” at your residence. Be smart. Don’t anger the natives. If done right, hosting parties/hanging out with your friends at your house can be a lot of fun, just make sure you reasonably contain it.

As a 21 year old, an unfortunate right of passage is to visit the local clubs and bars. KatManDu, Firkins, Slocum’s, the likes. Now I’m not going to try arguing that these establishments aren’t enjoyable. You get a free T-shirt at Firkins if you go on your 21st birthday. Who doesn’t like free stuff? Aside from that, I fail to see the appeal. If you enjoy over-paying for alcohol, being surrounded by intoxicated people you don’t know and listening to music you don’t even like, power to you. Already living off campus, I just think it’s counterintuitive. At home, you can save money, control the music and spend time with people you actually know/like. What’s stopping you from dancing in your house?

Granted, just as cabin fever easily infects in the dorm rooms, you’ll want to get out of your house once in a while. I get it. But I think we are a generation that relies too heavily on changing locations just to snap pictures and provide proof of “fun” on Facebook. “See? I’m in a dark room with sweaty peers. Notice the beer in my hand? Crazy night.” If you can easily replicate a situation at home (sans the perspiring strangers), then it isn’t worth spending the money or dignity. There are so many more worthwhile ways to spend your money. Perhaps in ways that enable you and your friends to actually talk at normal volumes, rather than screaming over crappy music. Just because you’re 21, doesn’t mean everything you do that doesn’t involve homework needs to incorporate drinking. And when it does, isn’t it better to be surrounded by people you know, who you can hear talking, in a setting conducive to actually remembering what was said between you?

Katie Brenzel can be reached at brenzel2@tcnj.edu.