Alcoholism isn’t drinking at social gatherings, but it could be.
Alcoholism isn’t closing the blinds and drinking behind the curtains everyday, but it could be.
Alcoholism isn’t the concept of being unemployed, but it could be.
Alcoholism isn’t abuse, but it could be.
Alcoholism isn’t a broken family, but it could be.
Alcoholism isn’t the poor man sleeping with a lone jacket on the side of the street, but it could be.
What many people don’t understand is the concept of alcoholism. Everyday, we pass people who seem to be living normal and healthy lives, but we don’t see the darkness behind their eyes or the loss in their minds. We don’t see the nights of emptying bottles or the sickness they feel when they have gone without their poison for too long. We see the show. Behind the scenes, they spend hours perfecting their appearance for when they find themselves in close proximities with other people.
They learn to mask their breath with gum or mouthwash so we don’t smell the last drops they poured into their mouths. They learn to wear extra cologne or perfume so we don’t smell the alcoholic scent. They learn to try to enjoy the conversation so we don’t think they’re avoiding the company. They still go about their normal day-to-day activities, but they eventually lose interest in some of their favorite pastimes. Not all, but some. They act as though nothing is wrong, and to some, these people may seem more normal than others. They don't act abnormal, and they don't draw attention to their addiction.
They don’t know about our suspicions because they don’t know what alcoholism is.
Alcoholism is masking your breath before you talk to anyone.
Alcoholism is taking shots before you go into work every morning.
Alcoholism is adding poison to your drinks throughout the day.
Alcoholism is falling asleep before the moon trades places with the sun, and then laying awake at all hours of the night because your mind is restless.
Alcoholism is the process of gradually forgetting memories.
Alcoholism is something nobody else can help you with. You have to want to help yourself before others can step in and loan a hand.
Football games, basketball games, midnight runs to restaurants following extra-curricular activities, little to no time spent on homework in comparison to the college study load, and dress codes essentially make up the generalized memories of high school.
Am I right?
We look back on high school, and we remember being perturbed by adults’ constant concerns about what we were wearing and if we were home by our respective curfews. We remember having miniscule responsibilities, and our biggest causes of stress were from our scholarship deadlines during our senior years.
Soon, we began making our transitions into college. We enjoyed our last summers with our friends and we tried to enjoy our last bits of freedom during our in-between stages of childhood and semi-adulthood. We bent the rules, stayed out late, and tried justifying every moment in which we lost all sense of responsibility. Our summers finally came to a close, and we were faced with leaving our childhood homes in exchange for our lives at college, even if our new homes were barely an hour away.
At first, we were hit with culture shock as we realized the importance of responsibility and the intensity our professors expected in the classrooms. We even second-guessed our decisions to attend college when we began our required core classes, but then we realized our love for learning once we entered our specialized degree courses.
We soon realized how little we learned in high school.
We came to college without resumes, little-to-no job experience, and less than exceptional study habits. We think about those worksheets we had to complete in high school, and we laugh because they didn’t help us accomplish anything. We learned how to stay busy and get by without actually retaining any information. We spent our classes trying to talk to friends or catch up on outside reading. When we were bored, we learned how to get out of those lackluster situations by telling our teachers we needed to either go to the bathroom or get something out of our lockers.
We learned how to never be taken seriously.
We wondered why our teachers told us we weren’t ready for college because we felt as though they were coddling us. We felt as though they didn’t believe in us, and we felt as though they didn’t respect us.
How could they take us seriously when we could barely finish reading ten pages from our current reading? How could they take us seriously when we missed class three days out of the month? How could they take us seriously when we didn’t study for a chapter exam, which then resulted in a less-than-average percentage?
I ask current high school students this: Do you want to be taken seriously?
Participate in class discussions. Ask your teachers for study tips. Finish your required readings. Complete each worksheet your teachers assign.
If you get to college and you feel as though you completely wasted four years of your life in high school, think about what you could have done differently. Apply those lessons to your current life in college.
Do you look back on your time and realize you rarely hung out with people?
Do you look back on your time and realize you never asked your teachers for help?
Do you look back on your time and realize you never studied for classes?
Do you look back on your time and realize you never got involved?
Think about it. If you graduated high school just a mere two or three years ago and you already think it didn’t benefit you, how do you think you’ll appreciate your college years? Will you look back and think about all the opportunities you missed? Will you think about the times you watched Netflix when you could have been learning? Will you think about the times you locked yourself in room while studying instead of joining the outside world?
College is too beneficial and too expensive to look back and feel as though we didn’t accomplish anything during our times at our respective universities.
You’re probably in your freshman year of high school, which means you are definitely not using your free time to read articles online. At the moment, you’re probably listening to old Taylor Swift music and trying to apply her lyrics to your life, or, perhaps, you’re locked away in your room while reading one of the millions of books you checked out from the library. Either way, the thoughts running through your mind which leave you constantly troubled are most likely not worth your time.
I can promise you this.
Why should you believe me? How should I know what you’re thinking? Well, that’s right. I don’t know what you’re thinking. Why don’t I know what you’re thinking? Because I don’t remember.
Did you read that?
I don’t remember.
I don’t remember what I stressed about when I was fifteen years old because, eventually, I forgot what didn’t matter anymore. As a high school student, I was constantly running three hundred miles per minute because I felt as though I had a mountain of homework complete for every class. Don’t even get me started on the people I tried to include in my life who I haven’t even spoken to since high school.
Between classes, procrastination, and a social life, there were times when I had to leave school because my anxiety left me mentally and physically ill. Now, as a college student, I barely remember most segments of high school. There are about five main aspects to every high school experience, and none of them are worth making yourself sick: academics, sports/extra-curricular activities, relationships, friendships, and working.
You’ll barely remember what you learned in most of your classes. Unless you’re venturing in the English field, you probably won’t remember those ten lines from Macbeth you desperately tried to recite. Unless you’re going into a mathematics field, you probably won’t need to remember Pythagorean’s Theorem. It honestly just depends on which fields you choose to pursue, and how often you paid attention in your classes. Try to remember everything you can because it pays off to be a well-rounded contributor to society, but don’t fret if you forget a few details.
Do. These. I cannot stress this enough. Participate in something. Even if you only join one of the academic teams and you don’t throw yourself into anything else, do something. Be a part of a team. Voice your opinions. Meet people not in your general social circle. These groups teach you more about yourself than any classroom will, and you will meet people you never thought you would meet. Not only is it a good practice for communicating, but also it is good practice for college and life after high school.
There is nothing I can say to either prevent you or convince you to either refrain from a relationship or to find yourself in a relationship. It will most likely happen. It’s inevitable. Just remember one piece of advice: You are your own person. The world is large, and it’s important to hold on to your individuality. Don’t lose yourself in the midst of your first relationship. If you and your significant other last after high school, then I applaud you. It’s very rare. If you break up, cry a little bit. Then, however, hold your head high and smile because someone out there is going to show you everything you deserve.
Friends come and friends go, but the ones who matter are the ones who stay beside you. Even if you go weeks without talking, the true friends are the ones who pick you back up, know everything about you, and would do anything for the sake of your happiness. Need a night drive? They’re there for you. Need a movie night with ice cream? Tell them when, and they’ll be at your house. Just always keep in mind: No fight is worth losing a friend. If you simply realize you both are going in different directions, then I hope there aren’t bitter feelings. There is one simple, but sometimes complex, idea you should always remember: No guy is ever worth losing your friend. Don’t go behind your friend’s back, and never choose the guy over your friendship. If your friend is a true friend, then she is there for you no matter what because she knows you would do the same.
Get a job. I don’t care if your parents can afford to pay for your expenses, but even just a summer job teaches you how to be grounded, professional, and responsible. Just like if you join clubs or play sports, you will meet people outside of your general social circle. Not only this, but you will also get paid while learning new skills, and you can add any of your jobs to your resume and college applications.
High school can be intense, emotional, and, frankly, seemingly unsatisfying. There are times when you’re going to wish away high school so you can move on to college. Honestly, college is completely different from high school in all the right ways, but you need to experience high school in order to appreciate life after the confinements of those cement walls. Drama will arise and you’ll have to deal with people you don’t like, but it’s practice for the real world. You may not take away a lot of what you learned in your high school classrooms, but you’ll learn a lot about who you are when faced with different scenarios.
Keep your head high, doll. It won’t last forever.
As a soon-to-be senior in college, there are a few lessons I’ve learned while having the grand opportunity of not only furthering my education, but also extending my social circle and becoming friends with people I will never forget. Of course, there are the days and nights spent studying, writing papers, and consuming more caffeine than recommended, but there are also those little pieces of wisdom we love to offer to those encountering their freshmen year in order to make their experiences in college enjoyable and worthwhile.
You will leave your comfort zone.
If I can share one tidbit of information with you about who I was in high school compared to who I am in college, and I’m sure many people can back me up with this, I was one of the quietest people in my graduating class when I was around people who weren’t in my general social circle. Now, on the other hand, it isn’t unusual for me to see someone in one of my classes and willingly introduce myself. You have no idea how many of these same people you will see around campus, in your other classes, and maybe in a few of your clubs or organizations.
You are paying to get an education.
Yes, college is about having fun, but the other 50% of it is about studying your ass off and impressing professors and mentors around you. These people will guide you throughout your college career, and many of these same professors and mentors help students get jobs. For example, I cannot tell you how many people I know who are now teachers in well-respected school districts simply because they were outstanding students in college, and they valued everything their professors taught them. Respect your professors and they will respect you.
You are paying for your last few years of complete freedom.
Think about it. When you graduate college, you will hopefully have a job lined up in your desired field. If you are one of the lucky graduates with a job already at your feet, your employer will probably expect you to start your job within a month after graduation. Once you begin your job, you will only have a week or two each year to set up vacation time and enjoy yourself. Welcome Week, holiday breaks, and summer breaks are no longer at your disposal after you graduate so remember to enjoy every free minute you have by doing exactly what you want to do.
Your college years are your selfish years.
You decide your major. You decide which classes you want to take. You decide who you see during your free time. You decide where you want to live. It’s all up to you. Nobody can tell where to go or how to go about directing your future. Sure, it’s recommended to soak up all the advice you can. It’s worthwhile, smart, and it presents you with a realistic mindset about where you want to be in four years and how to do so. On the other hand, if you fail, then it’s on you. If you succeed, you can thank those around you who supported you, but it was up to you to succeed.
You will change your mind about five hundred times.
One minute, you will feel completely confident in the direction you’re going, and then the next minute will have you feeling as though you should drop out of college and pursue a different path. Stay focused, and you’ll succeed. However, your interests constantly change. You will probably change your major three different times before you decide to stick with one. You might even transfer to a different school. With whichever decision you decide to make, be confident in it. There will be some trials along the way, but if you trust your gut and never take “no” for an answer, then you’ll be happy with where you go.
You will learn more about who you are when you aren’t in the classroom.
If you spend hours studying for your classes, then you’ll probably figure out how much of a planner you are or maybe you just stress out a lot. If you find yourself constantly going out and never studying, then you’ll probably find out how good you are at successfully (or unsuccessfully) procrastinating. If you find yourself enjoying your time in college because you have a decent GPA and you also get to see your friends on a regular basis, then you’re probably able to manage your time pretty well. You’ll also figure out how good or bad you are at cooking, cleaning, prioritizing, managing a sleep schedule, and completing other adult responsibilities.
You’ll probably find your fair share of romantic interests.
Many of these will simply be one-time conversations you have with people in classes or at parties, but you become familiar with what you don’t like in a partner and what you do like. You’ll soon figure out what strikes you about a person in all the right ways, such as which conversations you both find stimulating and which restaurants you both love you scour. Figure it out, but never settle. Always chase after who you think you want, but never chase after someone who is already off the market.
You’ll soon figure out about you strong love/hate relationship with yourself.
When you learn how to prioritize, you’ll love yourself for being able to go after what was most important, and then you’ll be able to treat yourself with Netflix and your favorite pizza. But then, this reward turns into a 12-hour binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy marathon, and you suddenly remember the six-page paper you have to finish revising for your class at 8 a.m. the next day.
You learn to adapt to everything.
Before college, you were probably someone who had to groom himself/herself before you left the house every morning. Now, on the other hand, you truly realize how valuable that extra hour of sleep is. Or, you could be the other person (such as myself), who prefers to lose a little extra sleep for the sake of breakfast or a shower. Either way, you’ll learn that sometimes alarm clocks fail us and we may not have time for more than a bag of chips on your way to class, sometimes professors add an extra assignment for the holiday weekend, and sometimes you have to learn to accept sacrifices in order to succeed and find happiness.
As a college student who just moved in to her first house with two roommates, and who moved out of her parents’ house, I began to reminisce about everything I’ve learned from my parents. It came about when I thought of the different ways people around me interact: with other students, their fellow co-workers, and even with their own parents. Then, I thought of how grateful I am to have the mom and dad I do in order to be where I am today.
Don’t take shit from anyone.
This is one of the top irrevocable truths I’ve learned in the past 21 years from my parents. Now, there are times when we all need to be put in our respective places, but there is never a time, and there will never be a time, when we should sit back while people treat us as less than the whole of our worth. We should always go after what we want, while also understanding the well-respected results of treating others how we wish to be treated. Knowing our worth and being kind to others will take us leaps further than those who sit back and accept being treated as lesser people.
Be kind to others.
We never know the types of days people may be having, and because of this, it always pays off to be kind to those around us. We should hold doors open for strangers, smile at people walking by, and use general courteous manners when we’re in public.
Work smarter not harder.
Hard work understands hard work. That goes without even needing to be said. On the other hand, working smarter will not only make your work easier, but it will resolve many future problems. For example, if you are about to undergo a project, rather than simply diving headfirst into the mess, it makes more sense to get a greater understanding for what you are about to undertake. Get an overview of the project, think of where the best place to do this project would be, and so on.
If you do what you love, then you will never have to work a day in your life.
This has been a prominent statement in my house ever since I was a little girl who wanted to write for the rest of her life, but who also loved to analyze every situation and fought for who/what she believed in. My parents didn’t necessarily follow this mindset of doing what they love in the workplace, and they engraved it into the minds of my brother and I in order for us to truly be happy for the rest of our lives.
Never take life too seriously.
For as long as I can remember, I can colorfully visualize different instances in my life in which my dad and I would prank my mom and then when my mom and I would prank my dad. We constantly make fun of each other because we’re a family of hot messes. Not only did we prank each other on a daily basis, but we also pulled pranks on people in grocery stores. Side note: If you were the elderly woman who reached the cash register with a 5 pound jar of pig feet in your grocery cart about 10 years ago, thank you for making us laugh hysterically.
Without these five truths taught by my wonderful parents, I don’t think I’d even be close to where I am today. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
There is one evident truth in life with which I know I can always find solace: You don’t owe anyone anything. This concept can at first be difficult to comprehend or understand because we all know we should treat people how we wish to be treated. Upon hearing, “You don’t owe anyone anything,” you may think that gives you a free pass to be a jerk to everyone who crosses your path.
This is the wrong mindset to have when entering this life in which you don’t owe anyone anything.
Too often, we allow people to have control over our minds and spirits, which results in a feeling of being weighed down because we, too, are aware of this control. We know we allow people to make us feel inferior or insecure, yet we choose to refrain from changing anything about it. Rather than seeking a way out of this suppression, we remain in the dark, controlled, and mediocre.
By living a life in which you don’t owe anyone anything, you begin to solely step forward into different facets of life because you’re simply choosing to do anything in which you find happiness. At the end of the day, it is your mind, and your mind alone, with which has to weigh your daily consequences. Even if you are married, your spouse does not know the inner workings of your brain as well as you do, and he or she cannot feel the weight pressed upon your chest from any suppression you possess. By only choosing happiness, these feelings no longer take root because you finally understand what it means to live for you. Performing tasks for others at the expense of your own joy is no longer an issue for you. This is the true meaning of not owing anyone anything: You understand your worth, and you decide to not settle for less than you deserve.
When people ask for you to do something for the sake of their own happiness, but at the expense of yours, you don’t owe them anything.
When people want to argue with you about your beliefs because they think they will be able to change your mind with the use of a few harsh words, you don’t owe them anything.
When people from the past want to open closed doors because they think they can convince you they have changed, you don’t owe them anything.
When people repeatedly put you down and suppress you, you don’t owe them anything.
When people want you to do something even though you have consistently and politely declined, you don’t owe them anything.
When people ignore your achievements because they believe theirs are more superior, you don’t owe them anything.
When people refrain from supporting you throughout your life ambitions and dreams, you don’t owe them anything.
When people feel as though they can always play the victims even though everyone knows they are in the wrong, you don’t owe them anything.
When people feel as though they can always get what they want because they make everyone believe they have fragile feelings, you don’t owe them anything.
When people choose to stand beside you during your successes, but then they seem to disappear when you need them, don’t worry. You don’t owe them anything.
Because you should never feel as though you owe anyone anything at the sake of your own divine, pure, and soulful happiness. This life is yours so mold it and create it. Find your happiness and hold on to it.
I’ve loved people, and I’m sure many of you have loved people as well. It comes and latches onto us, hangs around longer than any of us deem welcome, and then it can eventually fade away; however, everything in between those three stages are what make us crave the need to love and be loved in return.
I’m a firm believer in different loves awakening different passions inside our individual selves. For example, we have our first loves. These people make everything sweet, and we get our first tastes of car dates and romance. Then, we have the second loves. More often than not, these are the people who help us unearth different qualities of ourselves we didn’t even know we possessed–some good and some bad. These people, perhaps, are the ones we crave simply because we found some qualities about ourselves and we want to hold on to these qualities. Without these people, we’re most likely afraid of losing those qualities, which, then, is a further extension of ourselves. In our minds, if we lose these people, then we forget who we are.
This is not the case.
Even though these people helped us unearth these traits about ourselves, these traits were there the entire time. They might have even been there when we were twelve years old, but we weren’t aware of them yet because we had not yet ran through life’s course. We hadn’t yet experienced the taste of romance, or even junior high school, and through these people, our bodies helped us realize who we are. Perhaps, with these loves, we lost ourselves. In this case, it took losing ourselves to find ourselves.
Maybe these people who inadvertently helped us find ourselves weren’t only our second loves, but they were also our second, third, and even fourth loves. Perhaps, each person we date unearths certain personality traits or talents about ourselves, and it takes experiencing life with these different people to finally figure out who we are. Not only do we date other people to figure out who is most compatible with our personalities, but we also learn new lessons about ourselves: how we handle situations and how we view different outcomes in our lives.
Throughout trial and error, we eventually find those people who seem compatible with us. We enjoy who they are, what they believe in, how they laugh, and how they make us feel. Not only do we learn more about ourselves every day we spend with them, but they also enhance our lives. We no longer carry the added stress of wondering where our relationships are going or if we’ll even be together one week from now. Everything seems as though it is being attempted and conquered through a divine case of teamwork, and it almost seems too good to be true. No longer are we learning more about ourselves by how we handle loss. Instead, we learn more about how we communicate with another person and how we allow them into our lives.
We refrain from harsh words, never keep tabs on arguments, always find something to laugh about, and always remember to support each other.
Rather than thinking of our own wants and needs, we begin to think of another person as much as we do ourselves.
Some people come into our lives at the speed of a soccer mom racing through town in order to get her van full of children to practice on time after a nine hour work day. These are the people who ignite a fire within us, make us see all the colors of the rainbow, smile brighter, and laugh louder. These are also the people, however, who make us see the darkest of days and make us wonder how we ever lost sight of what was important: ourselves.
What we need to realize is not to chase after people who constantly make us wonder, make us feel confused, and leave us astray. We need not to chase after people at all. The ones who effortlessly come into our lives and make us feel at peace while also at home are the ones who don’t require chasing, and they don’t require the extra dragging effort. They simply stay beside us and for us.
In the beginning, we longed for the dramatic sequence of events filled with burning flames and emotional conversations. We longed for the danger and the risks. Once a flame ignites, however, it always has to burn out. It’s inevitable. Rain approaches, winds howl, and winter storms loom ahead. In the end, the flame must cease.
While those around us search for their irresistible flames, we need to be in search of something much greater: home. We need to search for the ones who makes us feel safe, secure, and at peace with ourselves. Flames always burn out, but a home is always there to welcome you.
During the rain, it holds out an umbrella.
During the wind, it brings you indoors.
During the winter storm, it warms you with hot chocolate.
This person is the one who has earned your trust, never seems to have an ulterior motive, and never makes you feel as though you’re a lesser version of yourself. This person helps you embrace your insecurities while also giving you an extra ounce of comfort to put your mind to rest when faced with conflict.
A flame will undeniably burn out.
A home will stand with you through the worst storm.
Lauren is a Ball State University alumna with a Bachelor's degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. She enjoys breakfast for dinner with a side of literary enjoyment.