I have a new friend in school who I'll call Taylor. Taylor likes to party and "have fun". And when I say "have fun", I mean drink, smoke, experiment, etc. I'm a good student. I get straight A's, I play three sports, and I take music lessons every week. But lately, Taylor has been inviting me to go to parties with her or just to hang out with her, and most of the time I agree and come out to meet her and whoever else she is.
Taylor convinced me to try smoking a few weeks ago and I think I might be addicted. I don't live in the United States anymore — I live in a place where people don't care what you do based on your age — so I'm 16 and people wouldn't give a second thought if they saw me smoking while walking on the sidewalk at 2PM, or they wouldn't ask me for ID if I brought a bottle of beer to the cashier to pay. I'm usually buying packs of cigarettes and subconsciously planning ways for me to smoke in my room without getting caught. I'm also easily persuaded, and I'm afraid Taylor might ask me to try some of the hardcore drugs with her, and that I might experiment and (god forbid) like it.
I don't know who to talk to — I can't speak the language of the country I'm in — and I can't talk to my parents because they will kill me. I just don't know what to do, and I think I need help before it gets any worse.
Oh, man, do you ever. The horror! The depravity! Somebody's got to intervene! I mean, the smoking, the drinking, the partying... it's not like you have any choice about these things, right? You're just a helpless passenger, along for the ride! And mark my words, Sparkler: it'll only be a matter of time before you're snorting cocaine, chugging vodka, and ultimately getting mauled to death when one of your more persuasive friends makes a convincing case for going to the zoo, climbing into the bear pit, and punching one of the grizzlies right in the junk.
...That is, if you don't stop, reconsider your position, and wise up to the necessity of taking responsibility for your own shizz.
Because right now, to hear you tell it, your behavior is everyone's fault but yours. It's your party girl friend's fault for convincing you to try smoking. It's your country's fault for not legally ripping the cigarettes and beer out of your hands. It's the universe's fault for making you so easily persuaded! And somehow, you seem to have overlooked the part where very one of these scenarios hinges on you, your responsibility, and your choices.
And I've gotta tell you, darling: if you're making crappy choices, it's not up to the wider world to save you from yourself.
The good news is, this is your choice. You don't need someone to stop you; you just need to stop. If you don't want to be a smoker, don't smoke. If you're offered a cigarette or a drink or a drug you don't want, don't take it. If you can't refuse, ask your friends not to offer. And if your friends refuse to respect your wishes and pressure you to do things they know you're not cool with, then get new friends.
And if you do want to do these things? Then you need to take ownership of those feelings, too. Being curious about this stuff doesn't make you a bad kid, or even an unusual one. Yes, these substances can be illegal and/or damaging depending on what and how much you use, and no, we shouldn't experiment with illegal and/or damaging things, but the truth is that most people do experiment—and mostly without incident, because they set and respect healthy limits. You need to do the same. And if you don't trust yourself not to cross the line from experimentation to dependency, then the solution isn't to point fingers at everyone else; it's to recognize that weakness and to avoid the people, places, and situations that would exploit it.
So please, admit it: You tried smoking because you were curious. You bought cigarettes because you wanted to. And you're seeking opportunities to light up because, in all likelihood, there's something about it (be it the rebellion, the social points, or the cigs themselves) that's enjoyable to you. Figure out what it is, and figure out a way to scratch that itch that doesn't make you hate yourself. Because really, Sparkler, there's only one person who bears the blame for the decisions you've made—and it's not the friend you're trying to pin it on. All she's done is invite you to parties. What you do when you get there, on the other hand, is entirely up to you.
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