Turning 20 is like turning 19. You don’t get any new privileges out of it like you would with ages 18 or 21, but the day is what you make of it. I used to love my birthday because it was MY day. It was the one day where all of the attention was on me (I disregarded the rest of the people in this world that share my birthday including four of my friends.) This year, the people I spent it with and the experiences I have had meant more.
For my 20th birthday, I decided to create my own project. For every person that we came across I would ask them one of three questions or all of them: 1. What did you do for your 20th birthday? 2. What advice do you have to give me as I turn 20? 3. What do I need to do before I turn 21?
We spent the day traveling through the Seattle area to acquire these responses. Welcome to our adventure.
Mohammed: “How is your day going?”
Me: “It’s my birthday!”
Mohammed: You look like you’re turning 11!
But, if I were turning 11… would I be buying gas?
Mohammed ran after me to receive the confirmation from my friends. He asked me if he could do anything for me and before I could say no, I remembered the project. I asked him questions 1 and 2.
“When I turned 20, I was blacked out and woke up next to a woman who said ‘I’m having your baby!’ The best advice I have for you is “Any day above the ground is a good day.” He then beckoned me to come into the station with him one more time where he swiped a $25 gift card for me before sending us off on the rest of our travels. :)
“I got blacked out on my 20th birthday. Get a designated nurse.”
He also gave me a complimentary dessert plate. The perks of having a birthday…
“For my 20th birthday, I threw a house party. That’s a pretty good way to do it. Advice? You definitely wanna be drinking and you wanna surround yourself with as many people as possible!”
He then invited us to play beer pong with him and his friends at his house. We politely declined by taking off before he could return haha
“For my 20th birthday, I was in Havana, Cuba. I had been traveling for awhile with my childhood friend and we had a bunch of mojitos and went to Earnest Hemingway’s bar and I think we went to a show…but I don’t remember.”
Pat – Owner of Merge boutique in Fremont
“I was in college at Michigan State University. I’m sure we were drinking and dancing. At that time, in Michigan, they changed the drinking age to 18 for awhile. Advice? Floss. When you’re 65, your teeth will all fall out. Be kind to yourself and be kind to other people.”
Jerry and Cathy did not want their pictures taken so I snapped a photo of their dog.
“I used a fake ID but I got busted by the cops on my 20th birthday. I also didn’t know what real life was about so when I got out of school I was like “shit I have to work.” I thought I was going to get married and get taken care of.” – Jerry
“Remember to have fun. You always have to have fun.” – Cathy
“Get a fake ID and sneak in and go to a bar. It will be way more exciting than when you’re 21.”
“Embrace your youth. When you’re 40, you’re going to look bad on your life and say you wish you were 20 again.”
My two best friends wanted to be a part of this project also. Their argument? They know me better than “any one else you’ve met today!” so they have the best advice to give to me. Together they came up with “Any day with a cupcake is a good day.”
“Keep doing what you’re doing and meet as many people as you can.”
“I think you should go and visit your friends at their schools. Try new things and don’t be afraid of them.”
“Gamble in Vegas while you’re 20. I bet it’s possible.”
So I didn’t get drunk on my birthday, but I get to remember everything I did on it. I have always believed that we must never stop learning and Jeanette’s father re-iterated that to me last night. You can learn so much from the people in your life, but from the strangers you have yet to meet as well. I am so grateful and appreciative for everything I have in my life and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m happy being me. I’m 20 years old and a quarter of my life is over, but I have had a great 20 years of feeling alive. I am also thankful to those who contributed to my project yesterday, thank you for giving me a snapshot of your life. It was wonderful meeting all of you.