The Harbinger Online

Above the Influence

If you know anything about me, you know that I’m obsessed with country music. And if you know anything about country music, you know that more than half of the songs have to do with beer and drinking and not remembering last Saturday night. If you know a second thing about me, these two don’t add up. You see, I love country music and everything about it, but at this point in life, I am not a fan of the drinking that the genre celebrates.

[media-credit id=2485 align=”alignright” width=”105″][/media-credit] I’ll sing about a red solo cup and where the whiskey flows, but the only thing that is in my cup is Diet Coke. I only sing Garth Brooks’ “I’ve got friends in low places” at the Royals’ games. Bottom line, I have successfully made it through almost three and a half years of high school without taking a sip of beer. And believe me, I haven’t missed out on a single thing.

I don’t know when it became “cool” to spend every weekend getting hammered or toasted or whatever you want to call it, but it has become the social norm at East. It seems like unless you are at the big party on Friday after the game, you don’t have a social life. But based on my experiences, that simply isn’t the case.

My friends and I love to watch scary movies (well, I hide behind a pillow). Sometimes we roast marshmallows and have water gun fights in the summer. We even go play sand volleyball at night when we can’t see anything and it’s 40 degrees. Sometimes we just drive around and get lost in conversation and in Mission Hills. Whatever we do, we have fun. We can remember last Friday night. And we can talk about it in a normal voice, rather than in hushed tones in class on Monday.

I’m not saying that all drinking is bad. If you’re 21, then why not? I don’t have a problem with it while you are legal and responsible, but when 14-year-olds are getting their stomachs pumped, I get concerned. There is no reason that a parent should have to be worried about whether or not their child has a designated driver.

High school is a time to enjoy being a kid. This is one of the few times in life where we have the luxury of being able to make mistakes and our parents are there to catch us when we fall. But we shouldn’t be putting that burden on our parents, or on ourselves. They shouldn’t have to worry about our well-being when it comes to our choices.

I know I sound like a mother, and I don’t want to sound like I’m scolding anyone for their choices. They are personal decisions and I’m not judging, but I am saying that they may have not been the smartest ones. Everyone is aware that East has had more MIPs in the past year than all of the other Shawnee Mission schools combined. Unlike some of my peers, I don’t think that is anything to be proud of. Frankly, it’s sad. Do we really want to be known as that school?

I love Shawnee Mission Wonderful, and I want to be proud of everything we are about. But I just don’t think I can take any ownership of this problem.

Now you’ve read my rant on underage drinking and how I think it’s wrong, so let me tell you how I’ve avoided it and how you can too.

[media-credit id=2485 align=”alignleft” width=”190″][/media-credit] First, surround yourself with people who you know you can trust. If you think they will have a negative influence on you, be their friend, but don’t necessarily participate in everything they do. It’s like my great-grandmother used to say, “Don’t ever do anything you wouldn’t want printed on the front page of The Kansas City Star.” Good advice from a wise generation.

Second, know who you are. Don’t let others influence your vision of right and wrong. The only person who knows your moral compass the best is you. If you think that partying all the time is OK, then that’s your choice. But if you would rather not be a part of that, then don’t let anyone tell you different. Know yourself, and know what you believe is right.

Third, know the facts. It takes five minutes to look them up. According to the Center for Disease control there are 4,700 deaths in underage youth annually due to alcohol. I know I don’t want to lose a friend. That enough should discourage anyone from picking up a drink.

I may be a prude or a goody-two-shoes, but I don’t mind those labels. If anything, I’m proud of them. I am OK with staying above the influence. So, to all of those people out there who have yet to succumb to the social stigma, you don’t have to. Surround yourself with people who have the same ideas as you, and high school will be a fun and legal experience. It’s OK to listen to country music, but you don’t have to drink from that red solo cup.

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Jennifer Rorie

Jennifer is a senior at Shawnee Mission East. She enjoys country music, cowboy boots and cowboys. Mainly the last one. She is also a vital member of the Broadcasting Dream Team. Read Full »

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