Olivia Pucciarelli, a Keene State College sophomore who turned 20 last week, said that she loves celebrating birthdays.
“It’s funny, however, to think that one day I’m going to hate the reminder that I am another year older,” Pucciarelli said.
“When I turned twenty, a friend of mine told me that I was ‘two decades old,’ and it hit me really hard,” Pucciarelli added.
While 18 and 21 tend to be the big birthday milestones that college students celebrate, Pucciarelli said that she thinks 18 tends to be a bigger deal.
“I feel that turning eighteen is more important than turning twenty-one because of all the legal stuff,” Pucciarelli said, “You can join the military if you want, if you get in trouble with the law you can be tried as an adult, and you don’t have to live with a parent or guardian anymore.”
Pucciarelli continued, “When I turned eighteen I knew it was a big year. I got the ability to vote, my friends joked about me winning the lottery from scratch tickets, and I just felt more mature in general. I knew that this meant I had to be an adult in the world.” As for turning 21, Pucciarelli said that she’s not quite as excited.
“I’m probably not typical, but I don’t really care that much about turning twenty-one. I don’t drink, so I’m not going to rush out as soon as I can to buy some beers, but it is cool to know that if I wanted to I could,” Pucciarelli said, “I have some friends who can’t wait to party though, and I’m excited for them.”
KSC senior Zachariah Carroll said that while turning 18 had been exciting, turning 21 brought on much more stress.
“I feel like there’s so much time left to decide what you want to do when you turn eighteen,” Carroll said, “As I’m turning twenty-one, about to leave KSC, it’s stressful trying to figure out what I want to do – if I want to go right into grad school, or am I going to take a year off. There’s so much more responsibility.”
In spite of the added responsibility, Carroll said he was definitely looking forward to his twenty-first birthday.
“I went out to a party to celebrate with some friends and then at midnight when I was officially twenty-one, I went out to the bar,” Carroll said.
Amanda Gerwien, a 21-year-old senior at KSC, said that she had been looking forward to turning twenty one for another reason.
Gerwein said, “I’ve always had a lot of friends who were older than me. They would always go out to the bar and I would just have to stay home. For me, my twenty-first was more exciting, not about being able to legally drink, it was more about being able to go out to the bar with my friends and hang out with them.” Otherwise, Gerwien said that 18 and 21 weren’t really different than any other birthdays she had on campus.
“My nineteenth birthday I think was actually the most exciting one since I’ve been to college,” Gerwein said, “It was my first semester being in my fraternity and I celebrated it with them. They were all really excited for me.” Gerwein said that after her twenty-first, she feels like she has a while before it’s time to celebrate another birthday.
“Twenty-one was exciting, and I’m glad I’m twenty one now, I just feel like I have no more birthdays to look forward to until I turn thirty. It’s not as exciting as people think it is because now I’m old,” Gerwein said.
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org