On Being 21

I've heard from a lot of people that this is the last birthday that will be this exciting. From here on out, there's no more "Finally I have a driver's license!" or "Finally I can vote, buy porn and tobacco, drink in most foreign countries, sign legally binding contracts, purchase a firearm, and go to strip clubs!" or "Finally I can go to bars, nightclubs, and dispensaries (in Washington and Colorado)!" It's like once the government stops granting you the right to endanger yourself and others in a handful of ways, you might as well not even have a birthday.

Well, you know what? Birthdays are only as exciting as you make them. As much fun as it was to sit at a bar and drink beer on tap last night, what really made this birthday special was my--and my friends' and family's--enthusiasm. I got greeting cards and dozens of birthday wishes on Facebook, my phone was buzzing constantly all day with a different relative or friend trying to reach me, and one friend in Florida even sent me a picture of a cake on which she'd photoshopped "Happy Birthday Daniel!"

No offense to the MoD Squad, but getting tipsy doesn't compare to triple digit "Happy Birthdays" from the friends I made in college, my fraternity, my magazine, my gap year program, my high school, middle school, preschool, summer camps, youth group, family in California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Israel. I even got a "Joyeux Anniversaire!" from the family I stayed with in France. It's so easy to forget all the people who (apparently) care about me and I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful extended family.

My friend Jason Haas told me he'd never seen anyone so excited for their 21st. Well, that's because I'm not excited for my 21st (not more than others, anyways). What I'm excited about is my life. I'm excited to have a community that I love and that loves me. No heaping pile of booze, guns, and strippers can match that.

I'm not sure anything can match that.

For those of you bored on their 25th or whatever birthday, stop moping. Contentment is nearly directly correlated with gratitude. Find something to be thankful for.

So thanks all for the birthday wishes! I really do love you all.

One last note: I was super excited to vote. I'd rather be able to vote than have friends. Just kidding. Or am I?