The dangerous game of life


As a freshman stuck in junior high, I found it easy to feel separated from the high school “experience.” Teachers constantly said, “You’re in high school now. What you’re doing matters,” but it never felt that way because we weren’t at an actual high school.
I found myself quite lost and picked the wrong ways to fit in. Although I was maintaining good grades, quite frequently on the weekends I was sneaking out of the house. I went to parties and chose to do many things at the expense of my own safety, such as driving my mother’s car without a license and going to strangers’ homes just so I didn’t have to be at home. I wasn’t into drugs or alcohol or sex, but I was extensively exposed to all of that by the age of 14.
Getting caught up in an unsafe lifestyle is easy, if not easier, as a freshman than it is now, but it’s a dangerous game. Just because you do things as a minor doesn’t mean your life can’t be affected as an adult. Some of these things will follow you forever; most of the friends I had my freshman year have either dropped out of school, been to rehab or been locked up. That is not the life anyone should strive for.
I snuck out of the house. I tried to be grown. I made my mom cry. I scared her; I am not saying any of this in any judgmental way. Yes, there are benefits to that “life.” It’s fun for a second. You feel grown and empowered and often times that’s how to fit in. But coming from someone who was that teenager, the dangers that come along far outweigh the benefits.
All of these mistakes I made I attributed to one reason: not being a real high schooler. But after seeing the freshmen added to the high schools last year, I realized it is natural to want to grow up too fast, whether a freshman or a senior.
Comparing who I was as a freshman and who I am now, I like myself better. Freshman me was mean and didn’t care about her future. She cared too much about the acceptance of her peers so she never truly knew who she was.
As cliché as that sounds, I am a better person now. I have a future planned, and I have friendships that aren’t about what trouble we can get in together, but about how we can better one another.
I have grown in such a positive way, and I owe that to the simple fact that I quit acting like a child trying to be grown, and actually started growing up. In ninth grade, I knew right from wrong, but wrong was what I often chose because it was exciting. I know now what it feels like to choose right and it’s worth it to not be endangering my life. Having fun doesn’t necessarily mean choosing wrong.
High school is a huge community filled with so many possibilities. I found myself consumed in journalism which allowed me to be able to produce a nationally winning newspaper. Other RBHS students get involved with clubs, volunteering or other extra-curricular groups. But high school also brings dangerous opportunities such as drinking, drugs and partying.
With this mixture of possibilities, it can be easier to try to fit in with everyone else around you than strive for a better future. The lure of this lifestyle is that it’s “fun.” The kids around you say you can’t have fun unless you’re drunk or doing something else illegal, but the truth is, illegal is fun for a moment, not for life.
And for us seniors going off to college, the lifestyle doesn’t just stop at high school. These habits that have formed in high school — drinking, smoking, partying, etc. — will follow us into college. It’s important to realize this. I have friends from my past who are in prison and rehab and will never have the chance to fix the mistakes they made as minors. Our lives don’t go on pause while we make decisions; the repercussions may not go away. It’s OK to act young because you only get to be young once.
By Renata Williams
Art by Ellie Stitzer