~Peer Pressure Puppet, by isabeljoanvalentine
"The picture signifies peer pressure, which is an issue that has weighed heavily on
my mind for some time now.
When I was volunteering at a local charity shop about a year ago, I got talking to a woman who had been smoking for decades. She wasn't proud of the fact - she said that she had tried to give up several times - but she had been smoking for so many years
that it had become a part of who she was.
'I started when I was about your age,' she told me, 'and it was the cool thing to do. Don't start smoking. It's a slippery slope.'
She'd spent a life-time inhaling carcinogens and God knows what else because, when she was a teenager, it was 'the cool thing'.
Unprotected sex. Illegal drugs. Excessive alcohol. Masks of make-up. Foul language.
My generation don't drink, smoke and swear out of pure personal enjoyment. Not at the outset, at least. What gets them started is the idea that they will be excluded
and isolated if they don't take part in these activities.
Peer pressure is a really powerful thing. It's a drag, a pull, a push at the edge of a precipice. Being a teenager is dangerous at the best of times. It is all too easy to forsake your own identity in order to have an easier life.
Hang on to who you are. Snap the strings. You are nobody's marionette. You can control your own life, your own choices, your own future.
Whether you be thirteen or thirty, if you are suffering from peer pressure, I wish you the best of luck."