A 21st birthday is marked as the true beginning of adulthood. At this milestone, an adult can now legally drink alcohol, purchase marijuana and gamble (next stop, Cripple Creek). They can buy a gun, adopt a child and become an Uber driver.
Basically, almost all doors open to you once you turn the big two-one. However, in a COVID-19 world, how people choose to celebrate has changed.
Reagan Hickey, a senior majoring in communication, turned 21 in August.
“I celebrated by going out to a couple of bars with my roommates/friends. Luckily, by the time I turned 21, some bars had already started to open back up with the requirement of wearing a mask when you are not at your table. I’m grateful for this, as I had friends who turned 21 when nothing was open, so they did not get to celebrate as they had hoped,” Hickey wrote in an email.
Hickey said that this was not her original plan to celebrate her 21st.
“Before COVID, I had planned a trip to Belize with my mom to celebrate. I love traveling, and Belize was a new culture I was excited to experience. We had planned to stay at a little resort on the coast where I could snorkel and paddleboard in the ocean, and of course, enjoy some tropical cocktails,” she wrote.
Due to COVID-19, Hickey ultimately decided that travelling in August was not the safest option, especially due to Belize’s tight restrictions.
“I was obviously bummed that we didn’t get to go, but it was easy to put in perspective because I know people have lost so much more due to COVID, like their loved ones and businesses. I still had a great birthday, as my friends and family made it really special, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Brianna Beassie is a junior majoring in English and secondary education who will be turning 21 in three months. According to Beassie, she will be having a small celebration, movie night and take out at home with close family.
“I am still deciding what to do with friends, but I figured I could put together a virtual party of some sort since it is highly probable that we will need to continue to social distance and remain vigilant of COVID-19 through the first of the year,” Beassie wrote in an email.
“I usually celebrate my birthday with a dinner and a movie, but the 21st is one of those special birthdays that signifies a true transition into adulthood, so I had hoped to do something a little more interesting.”
Beassie had originally planned a much larger celebration with her family and friends by taking a weekend trip to Cripple Creek: “We have been there several times as a family, but this would’ve been the first time I would’ve been able to play the slot machines and participate in the more adult centered entertainment.
“However, I do not want to put my loved ones at risk of catching the virus, so I have delayed the plans to go to Cripple Creek due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Colorado. Casinos and bars are usually full of people in close proximity, and I would feel absolutely terrible if someone (in my party or otherwise) caught the virus because of me,” Beassie wrote.
Beassie expressed a preference to change her party plans to something smaller and virtual than to expose all her loved ones to COVID-19 for a few hours of in-person fun.
No matter how you choose to celebrate your coming of age this year, remember to practice social distancing, wear a mask and wash your hands. You only turn 21 once.