Summer. Freedom. Endless possibilities of things to do. This summer is much like my elementary school days: Swimming, friends, ice cream and lemonade. But as a teen, I am finding that life is now a little more complicated. At my age, I have more freedom, more choices, and more responsibilities. Swimming or strolling down Main Street? Ice cream or a movie? Above or under the influence?
It’s easy to think at first, "Above the Influence." Duh. My teachers and family have taught me to say "no" to peer pressures. But parents and teachers are no longer my only influence. The decision to stay above new influences becomes harder to make.
By being above the influence, I could risk being "uncool" (and being a teen, that’s not necessarily something you want to do). There are kids who are mean and will put you down for it. There are some ‘friends’ who may feel uncomfortable by my decision. As Albus Dumbledore once said, "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." So true.
Yeah, choosing to be above the influence is a big decision and one that has the potential to change my entire life. But after making this decision, it’s easier to stick with it. There are so many things to keep me above the influence. Like swimming -- I’m not particularly good at it, but I enjoy it.
Plus, I’ve got all summer to get better.
Music is one of
This summer, I also have goals. I want to learn something new. Right now, I’m not quite sure what it will be. But I know that I want to enter eighth grade having some new skill. Maybe it will be dancing or perhaps it will be jewelry making. Or maybe I’ll just learn how to keep my room clean for once.
For me, summer isn’t as complicated when you’re above the influence. Summer is enjoying the fresh produce at the farmers’ market. It’s kayaking, and hiking. It’s planting seeds and watching them grow. Summer is learning how to cook, and learning how to not burn myself in the process. It’s staying up until midnight, and sleeping in until 10 in the morning. It’s hanging out with friends and enjoying our freedom. I can do all this while staying cool and above the influence.
Parents, is your teen looking for ways to stay cool this summer? Have they visited the Above the Influence Windham County’s Facebook page yet? It’s a place where teens like me can share stories and find inspiration and support. Check it out, show it to your teen and tell them that’s where the cool kids of Windham County will be chilling this summer. Tell them I’ll meet them there. Facebook.com/wcAboveTheInfluence.
Mugdha Gurram lives in Brattleboro and will be an eight-grader at Brattleboro Area Middle School this fall. Mugdha has previously participated in the Above the Influence art activities sponsored by BAPC while attending the Leadership Program at BAMS. The Above the Influence campaign focuses on pressure to fit in. To look a certain way. To act a certain way. These are just some of the pressures our youth may face in their teenage years. But there’s nothing more powerful than staying true to who they are.
"Matters of Substance" is a collaborative column of the Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition. Our goal is to develop, implement and support a comprehensive community effort resulting in the prevention and reduction of alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse in the Windham Southeast area. The coalition meets in Brattleboro on the second Friday of each month at 12pm, from September -- June and all are welcome. For more information or to join our prevention efforts, please visit the BAPC website at BrattleboroAreaPreventionCoalition.org or call 802-257-2175.