A couple weeks ago, Allura Garis, the Youth Engagement Coordinator over at Natural High, asked me to write a back-to-school post about rising above peer pressure by pledging and choosing your natural high. Why would someone choose a natural high and reject alcohol and drugs when it seems like everyone else around him or her is doing just the opposite? After much thought, only one main reason stood out to me: because a natural high is something that truly makes you happy and will always be worth more than any drug or alcohol. It’s really that simple. Everyone wants to be happy, yet many fail to realize that their misery and unhappiness often comes from drinking, doing drugs, and the consequences that follow. They think that the short-term euphoric effect that drugs and alcohol give is what they need to be happy when in reality, a natural high provides lasting happiness without the damaging effects.
Throughout my life, I’ve realized that one of the ways I used to get me through the difficult times in school and withstand the peer pressure to give in to drugs and alcohol was one of my natural highs, music. I found myself keeping busy with concerts, helping out with promotions for bands, and discovering new music regularly. And it was something that I truly loved and enjoyed. I never had a desire to do drugs or alcohol because I felt like I found something in my life that mattered. During the hard times when close friends decided to head down that path and other discouraging life events, I listened to music that I could relate to. That was my way of dealing with the pain and all the emotions that come with being a teenager and something that I do even to this day. No matter how hard it was to stay drug- and alcohol-free during my teenager years, I made it through and am grateful for being able to do so. I know that my life would be so different now if I had given in to the peer pressure and just accepted the drugs and alcohol. Now that I’m in college and legally allowed to drink, I have actually found it to be just as difficult now as it was in high school. I can no longer use the excuse “Oh, I’m not old enough to drink yet, thanks but no thanks” and instead, have to really stand firm and be able to explain why I choose not to drink or do drugs. I have also learned that the friends who don’t pressure you into drinking or doing drugs when you don’t want to are the friends you need to keep for the rest of your life. Those who are true friends will respect your decision and help you stand with it. You will even begin to realize that people will respect you even more for staying true to your beliefs.
So, as the new school year begins, take some time to sit down and just think about what truly makes your life fulfilling and worth living for. Are alcohol and drugs really worth throwing away your future, your dreams, your life? Figure out what honestly makes you happy and have good friends who are willing to stand up for you and your beliefs, even if they don’t choose to be drug- or alcohol-free. Plan activities that don’t involve alcohol or drugs. Volunteer your free time at a local charity. Spend time with your family and your loved ones. Create art. Learn a new skill or hobby. Explore the outdoors. Go on a road trip with friends. Engage in your natural high and share it with others. This world has so much more to offer than just drugs and alcohol. Don’t even waste one second experimenting with these deadly substances that could destroy the rest of your life. You will never be able to take back a mistake, and you will never be able to ignore the devastating consequences that follow. Rising above peer pressure and standing up for your beliefs has never been easy. I’ve already been there countless of times, and it will always be a continuous battle. But I can promise that it has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself and will continue to do.