So often I find myself letting everything around me influence my decisions; Instagram ‘Influencers’, lame tik tok trends, random celebrities I obese over for one minute who I think will one day fall in love with me. I tend to let things and people who aren’t even in my life affect the way my life will turn out.
In real life situations I find myself allowing the actions of the people around me sway my decisions, despite the effect it could have on my health and family relationships. Coming out of lockdown, the effects of being isolated from friends and people outside my bubble made me excited to get back into the classroom, to have fun and make the most of my time with my peers. Because of this, I’ve noticed myself saying yes to things that wouldn’t have ever said yes to before.
Outside of school I am surrounded by amazing, inspiring mentors who encourage me to just be myself. They teach me to stand up for myself and others. But in school certain environments start to make me feel trapped and unlike myself.
In the mix of aspiring to be a young leader within my community, and just trying to make it through the ups and downs of high school, I succumbed to the pressures of Vaping.
I felt like I couldn’t fit in with my peers without it and I didn’t want to be the ‘goody two shoes' or third wheeler of every situation. Vaping made me feel like I was a funner, cooler, more relaxed person to be around at school. I convinced myself that it helped me when I was sad or down and since it was always there it helped me feel better for just a moment, where I didn’t need to worry about anything else.
When I got home I was overwhelmed with shame and didn’t want to lose the people I cared about most. I feared that they would be disappointed in me and would never look at me the same. I knew my image would be altered and that my actions not only affected me, but also the people around me. The guilt and worry of the vaping itself gave me worse anxiety, I still felt like I couldn’t stop or turn back; I needed it to make me whole.
Sometimes we can feel trapped. Trapped in situations or relationships. Trapped in our own skins. Longing to let go of whatevers holding us back. We find ourselves in unfamiliar environments, making dumb mistakes and doing things we know we shouldn’t and for a moment we feel special. Included. Free. But the moment quickly passes, and we go back to feeling trapped and lost. We think that our only way out is to return to the bad situations; subconsciously falling deeper into our own self-pity.
Remembering what is most important to me, helped me get through this situation. I started separating myself from some of those friends and making plans for how to avoid peer pressuring situations. Removing myself from the group was the hardest part. I would see these friends around the school campus or in classes, and even though I knew leaving was the right thing to do, that feeling of hesitation and the need to be validated still remained. But, I knew that in the end I would be better and overall happier staying true to myself and what I believe in by taking accountability for my actions and moving forward.
Life may be tough at times. You might be overwhelmed and constantly anxious. Down, lost or feel trapped. You may have times where you feel like you are not being yourself.
Remember that you are you, no matter what other people think. You are still you regardless of the people that surround you.
The actions you make don’t define who you are; the way you react and move past from them gives you a deeper connection with yourself and what you truly believe in.
You are loved, wanted, and you should never have to change yourself to empress or fit in with others. Live life the way you want to, because no one else lives your life except you.