This I Believe

Amanda - Webster, New York
Entered on March 1, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

During my freshman year of high school, being popular was the most important thing to me. Everyone says high school is the greatest time of your life, and I thought that being popular would fulfill my expectation and get me through the four years. The first few years of high school were difficult as I felt awkward, lonely, and out of place when walking through the halls with other classmates. It seemed like my peers were scrutinizing my every move and it made me self-conscious. Becoming someone different was used as an escape route from revealing my own true identity. Now I realize that the best thing you can do for yourself is to stay true to your heart and become your own individual.

Vodka was taking control of my friends. I was a helpless bystander as I watched their lives spin out of control. A close friend lost her mother to lung cancer, my hardest school year was beginning, and my grandfather died shortly after. I was depressed, and so were my friends. Alcohol and drugs were deeply explored by my friends and they pressured me to join them. Vodka was a part of their lives before school, after, and sometimes carried hidden in water bottles throughout the day. I’ll never forget my first sip of the forbidden substance at a party with friends as it rolled down my tongue, stinging my throat, and I thought to myself, “Why does everyone love something so disgusting.” It is easy to fall mesmerized by the excitement; many kids think that acting like they are adults is glamorous and fashionable. Much of this behavior may come from the media where sex, drugs, and alcohol are promoted in music and movies. In between all of the chaos, I realized that I needed to become my own individual and stay true to myself. Spending time with loved ones didn’t have to involve partying. I felt so strong for being me rather than fake, even if it meant not being popular.

In my clear-headed mind, I was really able to connect with my family better. During freshman year, it was simple to copy my friend’s rebellious behavior because I thought that it would make me look sophisticated and mature. This attitude did just the opposite as I looked childish and foolish. As I look at the new freshman that enter high school each year I can see the excitement of a new beginning, but it is easy to see the naïveté that lies within. It is understandable that they may be copying some of the upper-classmate’s bad habits, as it may look appealing to live with that lifestyle.

I’m so glad that my wild streak is over and I’m finally being true to myself. My parents and I have a much better relationship because of my attitude adjustment. I appreciate these people that have good hearts, even though they make some bad decisions. I am not criticizing their way of living their life. For myself, I know I cannot become engaged in this lifestyle again. My friends have recently cleaned up their act and are doing much better. From this experience, I realize the affects alcohol can have on you, especially when you are depressed. Focusing my goals in the right direction will eventually lead me towards a successful life. I believe that everyone should stay true to themselves no matter what. It is extremely more comfortable and genuine when you remain an individual.