May 27, 2008
By Jessica Crowl, Park Ridge, IL


Though I don’t exactly know what it’s like, I can imagine that all they see is a myriad of swirling light, colours, pigments of the skin of their surrounding friends’ smiling faces. What they see is nothing in their future or past. They see no consequences and may not even know what’s going on at all. What I see is a crowd of people stumbling about laughing with ecstatic grins and a black, purposeless life in their futures. It’s strange how when you’re a teenager you are considered a “young adult”. It’s ironic really because adults all know that there’s always something that could go wrong. Consequence. They know that bad things can happen in an instant based on the decisions they make. Teenagers don’t understand that. Most of us find an inability to make decisions on our own so we turn to look at what others are doing and choose to follow them because they’re the once having fun. So we thin of our choices this way: either go along with the others because they’re the people who are enjoying the moments they’re currently living in or we choose to stay apart from them just watching and waiting.
You know which one is right and which one is wrong. Sure there’s always the risk for choosing to have fun. You could get caught. But who really cares? You know what you really want and the chance that anyone will actually catch you is so small it probably doesn’t even matter.
One of your best friends is with them, watching the swirling world around them. They’re having fun, laughing, smiling, asking you to just relax and join them because you’re just sitting there being boring. She tell you it doesn’t matter, these things don’t really hurt you or get you addicted and ruin your life. It’s fun. You’re going to try it eventually. So why not now with people you know and trust? Responsibility is only a matter of whether you get caught or not. It leaves a tingling, warming feeling in your throat. You have been told how great it is so many times from so many people that it seems every one of your friends, acquaintances, classmates are into it. You look up at her. You think: This is ridiculous; there are better things to do. You know that, in the end there is really no point to getting drunk or high for one night and waking up the next morning feeling like it’s too painful to live anymore. You may wake up not having remembered anything that happened that night and wondering if you may have made one of the biggest mistakes of your life before you even graduated high school. Personally I’d rather not go to school after that and find out that all I had accomplished that night was loosing all the respect I’d ever had for myself. It seems to me that getting drunk every other night is like admitting to yourself, and everyone you know that you are going nowhere in life whatsoever-that you have no future. Getting into stupid things like that could cost you a family and home to come home to everyday. It could cost you a job. So is it really worth it to take a few fun nights that you wont even remember the next day really worth the trouble you will go through in the future? Is it worth it to come home from school everyday seeing the disappointed look on your parents’ faces?
All through middle school I’ve attended those little assemblies where they show you those movies from at least twenty years ago where you watch kids dressed in outdated clothes get drunk and after the movie they show you the same kids with obvious remorse written on their forehead. Those were incredibly annoying, but we had to watch them. We had no choice back then. We were still very young and most of us were ignorant to drinking. It’s not that way anymore. It just doesn’t seem right that all these years, parents and teachers have been talking to us about not conforming and avoiding drinking and yet even after all those speeches and movies, some of us still do not understand. I had a friend like that. Her name is not important but she was one of my best friends. She used to be this little innocent girl who always obeyed her parents. She was not very good in school though. That’s just the way she was. She didn’t’ really care much about school because she was putting her efforts and energy into making people like her. She eventually got involved with people that were heavily into drinking. She was one of my closest friends at that time; the kind of friend that would stay up with you all night talking on the phone about absolutely nothing. So it was hard to understand why she put herself through the trouble with drinking.
She began to lose a lot. She lost her parents trust and faith in her as she was now lying to them about most things, she lost her time because she was spending the majority of it running around either drunk or high, and she also lost a lot of her friends too; people like me felt that she got herself stuck in something that would do nothing but continue to drag her down and take others with her so I stopped talking to her. I was very much afraid that I would somehow get wrapped up in drinking and drugs the same way she did. It was a hard decision to make because as best friends you promise each other that nothing should come between you. There should be no reason to stop being friends because you’re supposed to get through everything together and help each other when something goes wrong. This case was different though. It no longer meant the difference between loosing a friend and staying with them through something they could not overcome themselves. When drugs and alcohol are involved it’s more like choosing between loosing a friend and loosing your own life and everything you’ve worked for. Now that I think about it more, it was a horrible situation: a terrible choice to make because either way I lost something that was important to me.
A friend or yourself? Which do you choose when you can’t have both?

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