Smoke engulfs my lungs, and everything in a five foot radius has become foggy. Music is blaring and my ears automatically feel sore. The friends who promised to be my side the whole night have already left. Here I am, freshman year, in the exact spot I told myself I would never get.
Like any naive 13-year-old, I had promised myself I would never smoke, drink or go to parties that involved drinking or smoking; I would have never thought my friends would be involved in illegal activity, either. I quickly learned that eighth grade Sean was long gone, and freshman Sean had taken his place.
I came to East this year knowing about five people since I had gone to St. Peters, a small Catholic school in Missouri, for grade school. East was a big change from my comfort zone. I went from a class of 70 to 420. From walking down the hall and saying ‘hi’ to everyone I see, to walking down the hall and hoping my foot doesn’t get stepped on.
Naturally, I was overwhelmed. With East being a huge school and having all these new, different types of people, I had no idea who to be friends with, or really what my identity was.
One of the biggest things a freshman is pressured into is joining a group that is not right for them. It’s very easy to fall into stereotypes, and get pressured into being the exact same as everyone else in the group, than to not fall into the pressures of being like everyone else.
Freshman year is the perfect time to reinvent yourself. For me, this meant new friends. I immediately got drawn in with a group of upperclassmen who didn’t have the best reputation. Maybe I was nervous and thought they were good for me, or maybe because I was intrigued by their troublesome reputation.
My older friends introduced me to bad substances that I knew better than to try. Almost every party that older friends have brought me to this year have involved drinking.There are always kids rushing into the party, thinking they are sneaky with a bottle full of vodka shoved in their waistband. After having aunts and uncles deal with alcoholism, I wasn’t about to start drinking at 14.
Although some are against the drinking age law being so high, in the end it is very beneficial to your health. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence shows that kids who start drinking alcohol before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol abuse or dependence than people who first used alcohol at age 21 or older.
I thought I was going to be able to end freshman year without getting offered alcohol once. If that were true I wouldn’t have been able to attend one party this year. It’s not about resisting parties, it’s about self control. The people who are able to have a good time without having to get drunk, are always the most fun.
Alcohol wasn’t the only substance I was pressured to try, but have turned down. I was offered pot maybe once before high school started. Now I cannot tell you how many times I have been, and continue to be, offered pot and constantly deny it.
As highschoolers, we all have to learn various ways to overcome the pressures we face. One of the most important things is to be prepared. Be ready for the tipsy guy or girl trying to get with you. Know that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Always have friends ready to back you up, and strong arms ready to push someone off you.
After being offered alcohol and drugs I finally found the courage to break out from that crowd of kids. Once I had told them I wasn’t interested in trying drugs, I slowly drifted more and more away from them.
Now I was left as a little freshman feeling nothing but alone. But I would rather be alone and staying true to myself, than going along with a group I didn’t feel comfortable in.
Eventually I found a wonderful group of friends who got my sense of humor, had interests similar to mine and didn’t pressure me into anything I wasn’t comfortable with. After spending a month thinking I would spend high school alone, I felt relieved to find people who really understood me.
After my friend group had formed, it was time for a new, responsible Sean.
Having confidence and a strong sense of self is what really helped me not have to fall into the pressures of freshman year. The more and more you learn about yourself and come to terms with who you are, the easier it is to be confident in who you are.
Confidence has helped me to turn away anything I wasn’t interested in, and has helped conquer all challenges that come my way.
You are going to get offered weed and alcohol, but if you are more concerned in doing what is right, and knowing what is right for you personally, everything will all turn out okay.