Lifestyle

Having Fun in College Being Under 21

todayApril 1, 2022 21

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By Celeste Parler
Web Content Contributor

Two weeks ago, SXSW and all of its conferences, interactive events and concerts took over the city of Austin, Texas. With the fact that SXSW took place during spring break, I wanted to take advantage of what the festival had to offer— to an extent. I knew that in planning a day trip to Austin there was only so much I could do in one day without an official pass. Despite this, I managed to plan an itinerary for my friend and I to eat and shop locally and see multiple free live shows.

Our day in Austin was going fine, but I had high expectations. Especially for one concert, I had planned our whole day around because some of our favorite artists were in attendance. It would be the event to end our day and act as a send-off for our SXSW experience.

Once we found overpriced parking downtown, we walked up to the bouncer outside who asked to see our IDs. Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, he informs us that this show was for ages 21 and up, despite the website I got the show lineup from saying the event was all ages. Instead of making a scene, we just walked back to the car and eventually headed home to San Marcos.

I am approximately six months away from turning 21. And the experience of being turned away from events or feeling defeated when an event is listed as “21+” is nothing new to me. I would have had a much easier time planning a day at SXSW if my friend and I were over 21. That embarrassing experience in Austin made me realize just how often this has happened to me, and how powerless and pathetic I feel over a situation that I can’t control.

A woman’s hand is outreached toward the ground to display an “X” and the letters “OC” written on the back of her hand in a black permanent marker. On the woman’s wrist is a black scrunchie and a neon yellow wristband with the words “Urban Outfitters” written in black.
At an all ages SXSW concert, I had to be marked with Sharpie Xs on both hands for the rest of the day.

Sometimes I feel embarrassed for being under 21 at an all-ages or 18 and up event. I’m able to get in and enjoy myself, but the whole time I have to have stupid Xs written in Sharpies on both hands. And something I’ve noticed about the events I can attend is that people will still be drinking, smoking or partaking in something they shouldn’t be. It’s not like I don’t understand why 21 and up events exist or why it is important to know if someone is under 21. It’s just that paying a higher cover, having the Xs on my hands and seeming like the only person in the room that isn’t drinking can feel lonely and isolating.

Generally speaking, I am one of the oldest people in my friend group. So it’s not like I’m being left behind by my friends going clubbing or bar hopping. Besides, I don’t have a desire to go out partying or drinking every weekend either. And once I turn 21, I will have to wait months for my friends to be able to go out with me. I know that for people that want to get in on the fun, their age is just a number. We all know those people who sneak into 21 and up venues or those who can do anything they want with a fake ID. But my rule-following self would never risk having a good time just to get in a lot of trouble.

I have serious doubts that the so-called college experience is only meant for people over 21. Obviously, that is far from the case. Plenty of people, including those in my inner circle, have chosen to be sober or are disinterested in college nightlife and live shows. So what do I do in the six months before I turn 21? For starters, I know I will just have to be patient because my age is out of my control. It’s no one’s fault that I have to miss out on events and “drinking privileges” in the meantime.

As I previously mentioned, having friends under 21 or friends who prefer a sober night-in makes it easy to find alternatives to going out. I know that I’m not the only one who feels left out sometimes from 21 and up settings. Instead, my friends and I make plans together to do the things we will enjoy regardless of our age, like floating the river or thrift shopping. When I think about what’s important to me and my college experience, the people I am with mean more than the places I could go.

Being under 21 in San Marcos does not mean that you have to stay in every night and weekend. From my experience, I have found that many local shows are open to those under 21, even if it means getting big Sharpie Xs. And if you are looking to go out with your friends on the Square, all hope is not lost. When you look further into it, you’ll find that several bars and restaurants allow minors, sometimes on certain days and times. So stay safe out there and be responsible, no matter your age!

Featured Image by Celeste Parler.

Written by: allisonschroeder13

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