May 15, 2008
By Candice Hogan, Rio Rancho, NM

Mr. Garcia continued his lesson on peer pressure for the third day in a row. He thought of every single way to tell us that the decisions we made in our teen years could affect the outcome of our future. He made up many stories about kids who had made wrong decisions and the punishments they had received. “I will never have to make huge decisions like these, and if I do I know exactly what I want out of life.” I thought as he continued his lecture.

I was the perfect kid in the ninth grade. On my spare time I was working hard to make the high school soccer team. Once I made the team, I worked even harder to win state. Many soccer friends surrounded me, and I never felt alone. Little did I know the soccer team would slowly deteriorate into nothing in about four months. Convincing me to choose not to participate in soccer for the first time in eleven years. It was one of those decisions I told myself I would never make. It was the beginning of many.

By quitting soccer I lost all my soccer friends at once. I had lost my blanket that protected me from the cold outside word. Eager to find somebody who understood me, I found my friend to this day Leslie. Leslie was close to flawless in my mind. Her only problem was she regularly smoked the gateway drug marijuana. We would laugh when people called it the “gateway” drug. She would always tell me that it would always just be pot. She convinced me she could never even touch other drugs like Cocaine, prescription drugs, or anything else.

Together we searched for other friends besides each other. We usually would end up at Leslies dealer’s house to spend our day. Eventually we met his son, his son’s best friend, and many people that bought weed from him. Slowly, we made friends that could extend out of the state. The one thing that brought all of us together was smoking weed.

Although they tried really hard to get me to join them, I would never smoke with them. It was one decision that I am really proud of. It had been pounded into my head so much when I was little I simply couldn’t give in. When everybody let their guard down around me, I saw their real side. I would walk into cars full of people that were throwing up and half way passed out. They were doing drugs that were far worse than Marijuana. I became to see Leslie more and more in these cars full of people. She looked miserable but she never quit. I could never depend on her being sober when we would hang out. She would laugh at me when I talked about anything that mattered to me.

I decided that I had enough. I told her that all the drugs were changing her. She said she understood and that she would completely quit. After that, many people would tell me that Leslie would tell everybody to keep her continuing bad habits away from me. I could tell because her personality never changed. She got to where she didn’t care anymore and she would do the drugs right in front of me.

The other day one of our friends died from heroine. There were so many stories on how he died, like, he was forced to, he got a bad heroine, or he just simply committed suicide. Either way he found himself in a situation where it was too late to get out. Most of the school was devastated by his death. Later, everybody continued on exactly how their life used to be, drugs and all. I feel that he died for a reason, maybe that he died for us. To show us to look around and see where we were three years ago, and where we are now.

Two days ago Leslie was pulled over for speeding. When the cop smelled the Marijuana in her car he searched it and called her parents. He told her that he was helping her, and explained to her that Marijuana was the gateway drug. She told me she wanted to tell him that it was too late. Even after her punishment, she is still trying to find ways to sneak drugs around with her. I want to pound what I have seen this last year into her head, but I feel she will refuse to understand.

It always brings me back to my Pathfinders class two and a half years ago. He was right, he just couldn’t find a way to get his point across. The reality is, no matter how secure you feel, growing up will always find a way to make you feel alone. It happens to every teenage kid, just in different ways.

I watch my friends ditch and drop out and I realize it is too late to help. I admit I have not made the best decisions either. I don’t want it to be this way anymore. I don’t want Leslie to laugh when I talk about how I feel. If she ever reads this I wonder if she will laugh that I got all my feeling on one piece of paper, or if she can still change.

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