Ever tried something and afterward wondered why you did it in the first place? Ever looked back and wanted to change something you did because you realized you did it for all the wrong reasons? I have.
I realized there is a lot of decision-making we do in each day we are given. Often in my first semester of college, while everyone was out partying and/or drinking, I’d stay up late on a Friday or Saturday night watching movies in my dorm with ice cream in hand and felt no guilt about it.
When I was in high school, I had told everyone that I would never drink. I would never want to lose control of myself or experience a night I couldn’t remember. I wanted to have a healthy life and be conscious for every beautiful moment I got to live. I was faithful to my promise of sobriety until someone robbed me of it.
One night, I was invited to an apartment for a get together with a couple of people by a friend I worked with. It was the night before spring break started, and my mom was picking me up the following morning, so I declined the invitation.
Trying to persuade me to do otherwise, I was told I could just “watch” them play drinking games or could play them while drinking water. When I got there, it became different. One of them said, “You can’t leave here without having a drink.”
I should have left at that point alone, but I didn’t. My friend offered me a slice of watermelon. I was skeptical after one of his roommates was pushing me to drink, so I refused. After countless reassurance from my friend that they didn’t spike the watermelon, I gave in and took a bite. The aftermath assured me of something else.
This coworker was not my friend, and he was not only having fun at my expense, he was taking advantage of me and knowledge of my sobriety. I knew the watermelon had been spiked right away, yet he tried to make it seem otherwise. When he finally gave in and admitted it, nothing even mattered. All my years of sobriety and the promise that I wouldn’t drink was wasted — literally.
I figured I had some in me already, so I explored a new world that night. One filled with screwdrivers and drunkenness. Initially, I was still grieving my sober state of life and all that I had accomplished since the present moment. After a bit of remorse and sulking, I decided to have fun participating in the drinking games others had wanted me to play from the beginning.
The problem was that these people weren’t my friends. They didn’t care about my choices or what I wanted out of that night. Sure, it felt great to be a part of the group for once, but that isn’t the group I chose to be a part of.
I have always made my own decisions, and this was not my decision. Who I am and what I do with my body is certainly not a decision I want left up to other people even if I think they’re trustworthy at the time.
I look back and remember that night. I remember how I hung out with that friend at least twice more after and acted as if nothing happened. I remember how I used to respect this person and how he treated me and others around him. I thought he even liked me at one point.
After putting it all together, that night should have never happened. There were faults on both ends, but I never want to be the one doing something because of peer pressure or a fear that I may be “missing out” on something I didn’t even want in the first place.
In a strange way, all of us at some point in our lives do something solely in fear that we may be passing on something great. I also believe that if we took time to figure out why people did what they did, we’d find that may be their reason for doing it is greater than the action itself.
Email Anne McLean at firstname.lastname@example.org