Congratulations! You have hit another milestone: age 21. It’s the beginning of young adulthood and the end of your teenage years. Sure, at age 18 you have the legal right to vote and move out of the house, but being 21 comes with more responsibilities and legalities.
The obvious, of course, is that 21 marks the year when you can legally purchase and drink alcohol. You can drink margaritas and beers, or even sip wine at wineries and exclusive festivals. Social nights out now include heading to a local brewery or embarking on a wine tour at a vineyard for wine tasting. Finally, don’t forget about the champagne you can drink at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Moreover, you can book a cruise vacation by yourself. For most cruise lines, you are allowed to reserve tickets at the age of 21. Now, you and your squad can go on a boat tour or a cruise for vacation. Also, when you vacation with your parents, you don’t have to worry about missing out on the 21 and above attractions – all sights and tours are now open to you.
Most 21-year-olds also choose to renew their license and get a full adult license, complete with a new headshot. Junior learner’s permits and junior licenses come with restrictions on the time of day you can drive and how many passengers you can have in the car with you; in many cases, a junior license indicates under 18 and under 21 statuses. In the state of Pennsylvania, both are indicated and the license is vertical. An adult license removes the restrictions and is often shifted horizontally.
It is easier to travel when you turn 21 because the process of renting a car becomes that much easier. However, be sure to consider the additional fees that come with being under 25 years of age when renting a car, such as the “under 25 driver’s insurance fee.” Additionally, if you desire, at 21 you can apply for a pilot’s license and learn to become a pilot.
Managing Your Independence
All of this newfound freedom and independence as a legal adult comes with important responsibilities. How do you manage them all?
For starters, when you turn 21, it is likely that your doctor and dentist will call you and ask you to switch your primary contact to no one other than you. You are now responsible for your own medical records and, as a result, a parent or guardian will no longer be the primary contact. This means that you must now manage your own annual and routine appointments, both with your dentist and your doctor, and you must make your own decisions about your health. Get started by setting reminders on your phone and focusing on your wellness.
Additionally, you will want to start filing for taxes on your own, especially if you have a job or income. Technically, you are legally required to file taxes on any sort of income once you turn 18. As a 21-year-old, you will probably have more income, so it is important to keep all your checks and tax documents in one place in order to make tax season manageable. Learn how to file taxes from your parents, an accountant, or an online tax program such as H&R Block.
Moreover, I believe that 21 is the age of self-sufficiency. It is the time when you are continuing to grow into a young adult and you are managing yourself and becoming independent.
Sara Kim graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and a double minor in Health Policy and Management and Asian American Studies from Ithaca College. She currently works as an Event Coordinator at a non-profit. In her free time, she enjoys working out, reading, watching movies, and cooking. Fun fact: as a foodie, she loves to try new foods and travel to new places.