How to Save Yourself from a High School Life Lesson I Learned too Late

I live within blocks of a local high school. And every single morning I see the same group of girls, walking with one lone boy, outside of school boundaries.  A quick glance around the area leads to the realization that there are multiple groups of students scattered off campus huddled in groups of two to five. All doing the same thing.


I remember high school like it was yesterday, the anxiety about trying to be cool and fit in, the constant concern of what others thought of you and the altogether dramatic existence that we took part in for four years. In some ways it was an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for the world, in others, I wish I could have a redo or forget of half of the bologna I either took part in or remember from back in those days. 

One of the biggest regrets I have from this time period was when I started smoking. I remember the first time I smoked, I was with my best friend and I was 15. I remember coughing and feeling kind of dizzy and just thought we were the coolest thing since sliced bread. Looking back I realize I was literally a baby, this fact is only further cemented by seeing the incredibly young students walking in and out of the high school every day.

And we thought we were so mature and knew everything. Yeah, no….

After those first puffs I was more of an occasional smoker, I would smoke with my friends during off periods or at lunch sometimes, in my car on the way to school. (I can say these things now since I’m in my 30s and my parents can’t ground me anymore haha!!! Sorry Mom!) We’d smoke when we were out and about but I wouldn’t call it a true habit (although that’s debatable).

I remember running out during an art class and smoking with a fellow classmate, we came back in and CLEARLY smelled like cigarettes, (that smell doesn’t lie). Our teacher stopped me and said “You know, that’s not actually a cool thing to do and you should quit now.” I laughed it off and thought, what do you know about being cool?!? In retrospect, I wish I would have taken her advice right then and there.

The straw that broke the camels back or pushed an occasional act into a full blow habit was the death of a good friend at 17. I thought – I’m stressed, I should smoke! Because that’s always the answer…. It was all over after that; I was smoking in the morning, I was smoking on my breaks, I was smoking after work, I was smoking at night. And then I’d wake up and do it all over again. At this point everyone knew I was smoker so I had a free pass to do so as I pleased.

Fast forward to my 20s, while the urge to be cool and fit in had subsided, the urge to smoke definitely had not. Add in alcohol and just multiply the smoking by two. While I obviously knew it was bad for me and wanted to quit, I didn’t really try all that hard.

It wasn’t until my husband and I decided to have a baby that I really stepped back and looked at my habit. I’d tried using Chantix a couple of times before to no avail, but this time I was motivated. I wanted to be healthy before getting pregnant, I wanted to make sure that my body was clean and ready to protect a little human and that I wouldn’t cause any undue harm. Seems like there are enough things that could go wrong that I didn’t need add something that was completely under my control.

And I was successful, I used Chantix again, actually had a couple of old packs I was able to use up and my insurance covered virtually the whole cost. Regardless, I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking to quit, worked great for me and after smoking for so many years – I wasn’t sure anything would work.

But back to my main point.

Everyday that I drive past that high school. And see those kids.

I just want to pull over and say “hey kid, maybe you shouldn’t do that. I know you think it’s cool, so did I. I thought I was so mature and grown up every time I held that smoke in my hand.”

But you know what…. it’s not cool, it’s gross. And despite how strong you think you are, you’re not. And you will get addicted without even realizing it. And it’ll be fun for a while, and then it won’t be. You’ll smell bad, you’ll hack and cough, and you’ll get sick all the time (I can’t even count the amount of times I had bronchitis). And then you’ll finally decide you want to quit. And you’ll fail, over and over and over.

Until you don’t.

And then you’ll look back at this exact moment and think “man, I should have listened back when I was in high school.” 

2 thoughts on “How to Save Yourself from a High School Life Lesson I Learned too Late

    1. Thank You!!! I hope this gets passed along to at least a couple high school students, if just one person quit before they developed that terrible habit that would be a HUGE win!


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