The Freedom to Choose

Tyler - Queen Creek, Arizona
Entered on May 12, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in being independent with my decisions and my actions.

I grew up in a nice part of town, just south of Salt Lake City in the West Valley. I was surrounded by good people; my family, my cousins, and my friends. These were the people who influenced me. My family taught me to be honest, chaste, and virtuous- these values were reflective of our Christian faith. My cousins taught me to have fun, and my friends filled in the rest.

My 7th grade year of junior high I met a group of kids through a summer baseball league. We didn’t get into much trouble, because we weren’t looking for it. We just wanted to have fun; the same as any other twelve year old boys.

One day that changed. We were at a place of safety, a friends’ home. But it was our unsafe choices that got us into trouble. A friend’s suggestion to drink alcohol was against what I was about. From early on in my life I had been taught to abstain from any substances that could potentially harm by body both physically and mentally, I never thought that I would put myself in a situation were that would be tested. This value was taught by my parents and I happily embraced it through out my teenage years. They hadn’t verbally said I couldn’t drink. They had just taught me to make positive constructive choices in all that I did and that by doing so I would secure for myself opportunities of success. I never really imaged what the reaction of my parents would be if I went against what I had been taught. In fact I’m sure they would have continued to love me just the same as they always have. But I know how I would have felt if I had to come forth and tell them that I had did something that displeased them. I know I would have guilt, shame, and dissatisfaction, and I didn’t want to feel that. Socially drinking wasn’t something I thought could lead me down a path of success, and I wasn’t going to start at age twelve.

I wasn’t strong enough to say no to my friends’ suggestion, but I was strong enough to stand up and just leave. This was the first time in my life that I really felt independent. What I thought was a rather big decision in my life, became a choice of my own, and I did what I wanted to. Yes the decision was also reflective of the influence of others, but it was still my decision.

I had many good examples in my life that have influenced me for the better. However my thoughts and decision making skills were often influenced by the past experiences of others, whether it was what I saw my cousins do or my friends. I wanted to make sure that whatever decisions or actions I made, that they were my own, that it was my choice.