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For many of us, our 21st birthday is seen as a rite of passage into adulthood. But besides the ability to buy alcohol legally, does anything else really change?

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Carol Santin of the west side is a cosmetologist

Describe your 21st birthday celebration. On my 21st birthday I was a nursing mom; I couldn't drink so everyone gave me money to go to Cripple Creek. It was fun, but I lost all my money.

Was turning 21 a big deal for you? No, it wasn't a big deal. I've been a parent since I was 19, so no partying for me.

How would you describe yourself at that age? I was in beauty school, and I was feeling confident about the future. I'm still working in that business.

Would you go back and live those days over again if you could? No. When you're in your 20s it's a learning experience, a time to do everything wrong. I would not want to repeat that.

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Ian Merrin of OCC is a personal trainer

Describe your 21st birthday celebration. First, I went out with my family and my parents bought me my first drink. Then I went with my friends to Dave and Buster's, and then we went to a house party. I don't remember anything after that.

Was turning 21 a big deal for you? You have a lot of expectations for it, so it was a big deal at the time. But afterwards, it was like any other birthday.

How would you describe yourself at that age? I was a typical college student, looking for fun. I had lots of ups and downs, and then I started questioning what I was doing and what I was looking for.

Would you go back and live those days over again? Yes, if I could do it with the knowledge I have now. I lost some friends I wish I'd stayed in touch with, so I should have formed stronger bonds. But there's not much I would change.

What's the biggest difference between you then and you now? I was living in San Diego then, but when I moved here I found out that by changing my environment my whole outlook changed. I'm more driven now.

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Muriel Tilton of the northeast side is a preschool teacher

Describe your 21st birthday celebration. I don't even remember my 21st birthday.

Was turning 21 a big deal for you? Well, obviously not. I'm not a drinker, and I was already married and a teacher by then.

How would you describe yourself at that age? Very focused. I was out of college and working, and we bought our first house. No kids yet, though. That came later.

What's the biggest difference between you then and you now? I'm a lot less uptight. I'm still really concerned about my children, but I think I'm more accepting of what goes on in life.

  • For many of us, our 21st birthday is seen as a rite of passage into adulthood.

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