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THE PROBLEM WITH WANTING TO GROW UP TOO FAST



TW: vape, alcohol and honesty

Warning: this article is a personal critique


It's a lie if you say you have never wished to skip teenage life and go straight into adulthood, for whatever reasons. Some want to drive, work, earn their own money, vape or drink, while others just want to have the freedom which is associated with adulthood. It really can be boring to be restricted from doing things because of your age. Being sixteen or seventeen makes the satisfaction of being allowed to do such things because of your height or age unavoidable. All the younger ones, aged twelve and thirteen, want to grow up quicker, and so, unfortunately, they wish to skip this precious moment of their lives and miss endless opportunities.


I've talked to my friends several times about how high school students become role models for middle school students and how this affects what they do. We were commenting about how we were at a party once and crashed into some thirteen-year-olds holding vapes and alcoholic beverages in their hands. How is it possible for that to happen, considering from being 12 to being 18 is a six-year difference? Since when has it been appraised that you're fun if you smoke or drink at 12?


When I was this age, my friends and I would play video games, sports, have sleepovers, go to playdates, and we were children who would always imagine going to these parties or vaping, but would never act on it. Today's generation goes forward with these thoughts, which is why it is so problematic.


It became popular to be seen hanging out with the older ones and doing the same things they do. This shouldn’t happen, considering they don’t have the maturity for it. Some don't understand the impacts that vaping has on our bodies and what nicotine is, which can also be blamed on what we are taught. It should be considered equally important to learn academic subjects, sex education, the harms of alcohol and learn the effects of tobacco/e-cigarettes at a young age. There is always a big focus on learning academics, but what about personal health issues, which are a predominant issue during adolescence, considering teenagers are curious and go through changes in their bodies during this time of their lives? The Juul package says 5% nicotine, which sounds like nothing, so they think that the 95% remaining is water or vapour, when it actually isn't. The lack of education in this matter can lead to them vaping or drinking without knowing what consequences they could face. Furthermore, studies show that nicotine is more addictive to teens than adults, considering their brains are already developed. They don't understand that e-cigarettes and cigars are both injurious, and vapes, despite being different from cigars, can also cause lung cancer at a high rate.


It is understandable that there is a particular curiosity to know what happens when you vape, all these different flavours (Dragon Banana Berry, Strawberry, Cherry Ice, Watermelon, Fruit Punch and much more), and what happens when the smoke comes out of your mouth… You see this somewhere, or someone you know vapes, and you wonder what it feels like. Some think that it is possible to get under control or convince themselves it is a 'one time thing', when its not. This is why kids can't try it; because they are kids! Because they don't understand that once you do it, it's not up to you anymore.

The package of Juuls are also amusing, colourful, looking like a rechargeable pen drive. It doesn't look harmful. It has no smell, no one can find out and it doesn't bother others. It's not as controlled as cigars; it's easier to buy online. They are rechargeable, you don't have to worry about purchasing millions of them and throwing them away once they're done. It all seems too good to be true.


There is an age difference that must be respected because one thing is to be older and choose to vape, drink, and party, knowing what can happen to you. They have the maturity and intelligence level to comprehend this. Contrarily, it is entirely different to vape, drink and party without knowing what you are doing, its consequences or for pressure, which are most of the cases at young ages.

Following this mindset, another example is regarding tattoos. Having something permanent and irremovable in your skin demands a lot of thought, research and knowledge. This is why having a tattoo is only allowed for those who are 18 or older. By having those, you are granted the choice of wanting a permanent mark on your skin, knowing it'll stay there forever and there's no coming back. If you choose to do so, that means you knew what you were doing. It was your well-educated choice—Same thing for all these activities. Once you try it, the likelihood of addiction is extremely high, and therefore, you use it for the rest of your life.


It is important to recall that the influence of these activities is not only given by the oldest. The world around us is influential. According to studies, the environment we are in manipulates how we act. Other aspects, such as the choice of watching TV shows, also influence this desire, for example, shows rated 18+ such as Euphoria, can be a stimulus. According to the New York Times, the suicide rate among teens, mental health diagnosis, vaping and overdose rates have risen immensely after the show launched.

Another stimulus is those around us. Not only the older ones, the people we see every day. Friends. Based on genetic data, researchers have concluded that environment and surroundings are responsible for 50 to 70 per cent of our personality. Therefore, having friends who stimulate you or pressure, you unfortunately affects your personality traits and decisions. Many don't have the courage to refuse the offer when surrounded by a group of people vaping and end up becoming addicted.


School can also be one to ''blame'' for when vaping in two different ways; firstly because as previously mentioned, it doesn't provide enough education except on science lessons about how bad it is. One thing is to hear from parents or scientific explanations about the downsides of vaping, and let's face it, we are all tired of hearing the exact words all the time. It would have a much greater effect if a past addict was brought in to talk about this or if another type of speech (a more captivating and irregular one) was delivered, something that brings awareness to some way else. Additionally, schools are also responsible due to all the stress that it creates upon students. According to a social experiment, 81% of teens vape because of stress, anxiety and depression. School is a big part of teenagers' lives, and it is simply inevitable to think that one source of stress/anxiety/depression is academic pressure.


The purpose of this article is not to judge anyone. The actual objective is to warn everyone and 'open their eyes' to new perspectives, criticising those who make a decision without conscience, knowledge or pressure. It is not easy to refuse anything for pressure or to control yourself once you become addicted but is it pretty easy to search for information on the internet and control your future. This article serves as a warning that vaping is not a one time thing and that it is a for life decision - so, if for whatever reason you decide to vape, with or without knowledge, with or without pressure, be aware that this will affect you for the rest of your life, and there is no coming back. Going back to the title of this article, the problem with wanting to grow too fast is that you end up missing out on many opportunities you only get to experience at that age. Everything that is sought out will eventually arrive in its own time. There's no need to actively chase something that is an assured future that will be available to you, and therefore, try not to fall under the control of peer and societal pressure.


Edited and reviewed by many St Francis students.



Bibliography:

Laguipo, Angela Betsaida B. “Peer Pressure at School Influencing Teen Vape Use.” News, 1 Oct. 2019, www.news-medical.net/news/20191001/Peer-pressure-at-school-influencing-teen-vape-use.aspx.

Guy Marks Professor of Respiratory Medicine, et al. “Teen Vaping News, Research and Analysis.” The Conversation, 6 Apr. 2022, theconversation.com/global/topics/teen-vaping-71954.

Keveney, Bill. “Exclusive: Report Finds TV Tobacco Imagery Persists, and Says Young Viewers Turn to Vaping.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 1 Sept. 2020, www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/tv/2020/09/01/study-finds-tv-smoking-images-raise-chances-youths-start-vaping/3423268001/.

Miller, Sara G. “Why Do People Vape? Reasons Have Changed.” LiveScience, Purch, 1 Mar. 2017, www.livescience.com/58071-why-people-vape.html.


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