This is not going to be one kid preaching to another kid about drugs and gangs; I know your momma does it and I don’t like being preached to. I just want you to know a few things that might persuade you to make a few changes in your habits; big changes that can screw up your life if they’re not made.
I’m aware that a lot of kids get pulled into the streets, then gangs. You get associated with the wrong group, and you’re aware of this, but you think: there’s no way out, this is my family now and they got my back, and/or this gang is giving me street cred and benefits that my family needs. I live in Stockton, I hear about gang activity often, and I understand it may seem normal to feel obligated to join one because everyone else is, or you may live in an area of poverty, and want to get ahead; a gang may seem like your only option. I don’t blame you for looking at the glass as half empty, but I think you should know the risks you’re taking when you accept to live this lifestyle.
Though gangs may seem like family, don’t forget that everyone involved is there for the same reasons you are, and if you happen to make a decision that interferes with their money, their time, or maybe even just irritates them, that could mean the end of your life and the death of your future. Being in a gang also greatly increases the risk of your bloodline being harmed. Instead of hurting you physically, they could just directly target your loved ones to ensure you live the rest of your life with guilt and sorrow eating away at you. I know you probably think I’m ignorant; I don’t know the real consequences of a gang since I’ve never been in one, but I know people who have been involved in gang activity, and the internet is flooded with information. I have family members who have been in prison, jail; members who have first hand education on this matter. I know the crazy rituals, the tattoos and their meanings, the whole “where you from” game, and how quickly your life can be taken for doing the wrong thing or trying to get out. If you got in, there’s still a way out. If you’re thinking about joining, I advise you think about avoiding all involved. I’m not sure how old you are, where you live, or what your exact situation is, but talk to a teacher, a councilor, a friend, family, authorities, or anyone you trust to help you get out of your situation. Always keep your safety in mind when going to look for help, and if you haven’t joined yet, don’t do it at all.
I love to have a little fun, dancing, and screaming the lyrics to the songs instead of actually singing. I love being in a vibrant environment where your thoughts are jumping around as you’re jumping; when you let all your worries spill out with your sweat. I see nothing wrong with a party itself, its just the excessive drinking, the clouds of smoke of who knows what drugs, and the fact that you intoxicated yourself so intensely you can’t even remember what you did and who you did it with. I am one of those people who believes we should all be able to live the lifestyle we want without judgement, and so I am not writing this to judge. If you find it exhilarating to forget what happened, then be my guest, go for it! I just always want you to be aware of the consequences. If you’re an adult, you are most likely aware of what alcohol does to your liver and what smoking does to your lungs and brain, so this isn’t necessarily for you, but if you’re 15 or around that age, just know you may find temporary relief in the puffs and clouds and oz., but in the near future, you may develop asthma, liver issues, brain problems, heart problems, etc. There are so many things that could go wrong simply by putting your body under the pressure of unnecessary intoxication. Don’t drink just because your friends are, especially if you don’t even like it! Don’t force yourself to smoke just because the aesthetics of it look appealing. If you stop worrying about looking cool, I’m sure you’d never even touch a cigarette or an alcoholic beverage in your life. Think about it. We all get curious, we all wanna try the things everyone else is doing, but we also continue to do things even after we’ve tried it and hated it. If you don’t like the taste of beer, then why are you drinking it?! Come on now. If smoking causes you to throw up due to the smell or taste, then why are you buying packs? Stop, stop, stop, stop. I’m 15, I’ve learned that everything I’ve done in the past to look cool has gotten me nowhere. I’ve been to parties, I’ve vandalized, etc.,etc. But look at me now… I have a handful of good friends and I spend my weekends snacking, watching movies and blogging. I’m focused on my high school and college work and I put family before “friends”, and I promise you that I am the most happy I’ve been in years. When you stop trying to impress everyone else, and you worry about making yourself proud, life goes uphill rather quickly.
I see a lot of people putting the book emoji in their Instagram bios and putting “focused” next to it; I’m assuming they’re trying to say they’re focused on their education. I think that would be a great thing to put in your bio if it were TRUE. The same people who are bragging about their focus are the same kids who record every moment of their lives on their Snapchat story, the same kids who are ditching class to chill with friends, and the same kids that would rather smoke at a park before they even consider looking at their homework. Now that being educated and focused is “cool”, people are lying about being so. You can stop pretending and you could just actually try. If you really became focused, you could go far in life, but everyone’s going to know you’re lying when you grow up to become a cashier for a living. With the proper grades and education, you could do literally whatever you want. I am proud of myself. I am a Mexican, Black, and Native American Female in Stockton, Ca. People look at me and assume trouble, but I’ve spent all my life staying focused on my books, and last year I got accepted in an early college academy. At any moment, I could get addicted to drugs, drown myself in alcohol, join a gang, or ignore school and my education, but I stay focused because I told myself that this is the only way people are gonna respect me and take me seriously. If you’re from a small town with a bad rep like I am, you know life is automatically harder for us. If your family doesn’t have thousands put away for your education, you know you have to be one of the best at something in order to get into a good college. I know that you think you need to be in that gang, or you need to be at every party to fit in somewhere, but you don’t. Focus on the right things and the right people in life; focus on yourself, and I promise you’ll fit in with someone or something along the line. Education is the new power. Power isn’t just money, or something you have to inherit; its something you can EARN now. Work hard for your money, your respect, and your education, because working hard for what you want is the only thing we can guarantee in our world today.