Why I Will NOT be Drinking on my 21st Birthday

Somehow, 21 is an age where we are supposed to decide to do unhealthy things to our bodies. At least that's what people keep telling me. Sure, they haven't yelled "Hey J.T., do unhealthy things to your body!" but they have decided that my decision to remain sober on my 21st birthday is highly unusual.

Beyond drinking, I'm expected to get completely plastered on my 21st birthday.

That's what I'm told by my coworkers at least. That's what they did, that's what their friends have and will do, and that's what they generally expect everyone to do. Getting plastered on the 21st is a societal norm.

The government's restriction on underage drinking of alcohol has created an extremely unhealthy and dangerous tradition. Getting plastered is no longer immoral; it's expected and I'll explain how underage drinking laws have done serious damage to society.

Not only that, but the drunkenness on the 21st birthday sets a precedent. Once a person gets drunk, they generally want to experience it again (even though they are miserable from the hangover). That's how alcoholism starts. Unhealthy lifestyles are created from the first few innocent experiences.

Now to me, alcohol is no more unhealthy for me on my 21st birthday than it is on the 364th day of my 20th year. Yet somehow it is completely immoral for me to drink on the 364th day of my 20th year. Why? Because the government tells me so.

Being 7664 days old and sipping an O'Douls is called underaged drinking, but being 7665 days old and getting blackout drunk is perfectly acceptable.

That's weird to me. You can see how the legal drinking age creates bad habits in people into their adult life.

Now I'll make a case for why an age limit may actually be the cause of the underage drinking problem in our society. I don't advocate for underage drinking, but I can see why drinking is becoming a hobby for younger and younger people.

20 year olds look at  21 year olds and say, our bodies really aren't that different; why is drinking alcohol bad at 20 and not at 21?

The 19 year old looks at the 20 year old the same way.

The 18 year old looks at the 19 year old the same way.

Eventually the 12 year old looks at the 13 year old and thinks, if drinking is right for him then it's right for me!

When you set an age requirement as a measure of maturity or adulthood, the younger people look to that age requirement and compare themselves to it. If they really aren't that different from the people at that age, they'll drink. Younger people always want to be seen as more mature and adultlike.

That is, in a nutshell, why underage drinking has become such a problem for middle and high school students, and partially why our society has so many insane people walking around.

We've got a bunch of people whose brains were damaged in development. We've got a bunch of people who were too high in high school to learn from their teachers.

This is the problem with government-mandated morality. People will start to get their morals from the government rather than their parents or their faith.

The age limit creates a weak moral standard and eliminates many strong moral standards.

I think if something is immoral at a given age, it's immoral at all given ages. Alcohol isn't necessarily immoral, and it doesn't make sense for the government to treat it as such.

Prohibiting a child from drinking is only possible if the kid's parents do an effective job of preventing the kid from drinking, whether there is an age limit or not.

The governmental definition of underage drinking does nothing to change the actions of the parents or the youth.

If a parent wants their child to take a sip of their drink, they'll do it whether it's illegal or not. I have plenty of friends whose parents allowed them to underage drink, even though it was in small proportions. The age limit laws did nothing to stop it.

If a child doesn't have good, responsible parents, they'll drink whether the government says its okay or not. If a child's parents are drunks, the child will generally find a way to drink whether it's against the law or not.

The underage limit to alcohol gives drunkenness a false sense of morality. It makes the 21st birthday a magical day where it's okay to be really, really stupid.

Here's what I propose; people take responsibility for their own choices. If a person knows they have a family history of handling alcohol well, then they should be allowed to drink in a responsible manner. If a person knows they have a family history of being terrible alcoholics, they should steer as far away from alcohol as possible.

No magical 21st birthday makes it okay to drink irresponsibly if their family history is that such a decision is a terrible idea.

A person should dictate in their own life the age limit for their drinking. For a family of wine connoisseurs who want to teach their young ones how to taste fine wine, it's a low age limit. For Catholics, it's probably a low age limit.

For a large chunk of people it's a high age limit. They should drink in moderation when they feel ready to do so.

For people like me, who have their reasons not to drink, they shouldn't be pressured to start drinking simply because tradition dictates it on a certain day of their life.

I for one will not be drinking; especially not on my 21st birthday.

Update 10/27/2015: I am 22 and still haven't drank alcohol. Take that world!