"What did you do Friday night?" asks Katelyn.
"I don't even remember. I was so drunk," says Rachel.
This is something I hear about every Monday. Rachel, the girl who used to play soccer with me, who got good grades, who was one of my best friends, and is now ruining her life.
Back in middle school, Rachel was one of the kids you would never expect to do anything her parents wouldn't approve of. Ever since we started high school, she met a lot of people who have had a bad influence on her. She made friends with all the seniors and went to all their parties. She followed the example those seniors gave her and began drinking on the weekends.
Pretty soon, it became every weekend. She started lying to her parents about where she was and who she was with. She thought she was better than all of us freshmen. After a while, she began losing some of her friends, including, Sabrina, her best friend. Sabrina didn't like seeing her friend acting like this, skipping classes, drinking, and now smoking.
But Rachel didn't care. All she cared about was winning the approval of those seniors, who when they graduated, probably wouldn't even care about her anymore. Getting drunk or high was all she considered fun.
As we moved into sophomore year, it wasn't just Rachel doing these things. Many of her friends and classmates began going down this road too. Many of them think they'll have more fun or that they'll be "cool" if they do this.
Rachel has become someone who feels she needs alcohol. She now has a curfew of 10:00 so she's upset that she can't go to any of the parties her older friends are having. So, she picks up a couple of her friends, they drive somewhere, and sit in her car and drink. She isn't just harming herself by doing this, she's putting everyone else's lives at risk. She just got her license and has driven under the influence "I don't even know how many times," she says.
I know along the way somewhere, something will happen to Rachel that will make her realize that what she's doing with her life isn't going to get her anywhere. I know the old Rachel is somewhere deep inside of her and if someone can help her see what she's doing, maybe, just maybe, someday she will stop doing this to herself.
I realize that there will be a time in my life when I am pressured to drink or smoke. But I have made a decision not to do either of these things and I will stay true to my choice. Everyone is pressured to do things they don't feel comfortable doing, but I know that anyone who is pressured can say no. It may not be easy but would you rather say no, or end up doing something you totally regret? Some people don't want to say no to their friends, but if they don't respect your decision are they really your friends?
This can happen to anyone, just look at Rachel, look how fast people can change. It only takes one drink . . .
Author's Note: Names have been changed.