One block, two block, three block, the world around you building you up. Each block is a new strength, a new experience, a new lesson of life. It’s a nice tower — pretty tall, elegant and intricate in nature. Towers are nice and all, but we’ve all played Jenga, we know what happens when you jostle a piece too hard. Down the tower goes.
People are towers. You can spend a lifetime building yourself up to see it all go bad within a moment. We see it a lot in one of the most volatile periods in our lives, adolescence.
We may as well all face it, high school is the first point in our lives in which our actions are recorded in stone. When out in the big, scary adult world, sitting down in that not-so-cozy chair, sweating through your nice shirt at a job interview, this is the time they’ll first look at, as we’re young adults, to judge us as people. We mess up now and it’s going to take a lot to make people forget about it. This is why it’s so important to keep our heads up about messing up. The age of “it was only a mistake” is basically over, like it or not.
Now, when we think about what often happens with people that makes them do this crazy stuff, we think about drugs, kids, some people even say media. I, for one, think a person needs another person to truly change, as we people are no more than social pieces of clay.
This can be a really intricate issue, as especially in high school our old friends from the playground do quite a bit of changing, just as we do. They often go down the wrong path, skipping class, neglecting their studies, or whatever other hoodlumry they may be up to. These are what I like to call toxic friends.
Now, it can be nice to try to help these friends, but sometimes it’s so much strain on yourself, that honestly it’s like hooking up a tube from you to them and letting them suck the life from you and them not even having the will to use that life you’re giving them. Sometimes, like a bad partner, it’s best for you just to dump them, and let them fall alone rather than have them take you down with them.
I even still feel the bite of my legacy of my “record” from my past. I didn’t try very hard in middle school, so I missed out on a lot of chances, including taking advanced math and science classes, which I would nearly do anything to go back and get into now. I feel like, nowadays, it’s better to have felt like something was boring in the past rather than regret it often.
I know a lot of people say teen years are to be lived to their fullest, but personally I feel as if I can live a full life without harming myself in the process. It may sound like fun, yes, but like knocking over a long series of dominoes, it may be fun for the moment, but afterwards, you have to pick up all of those dominoes and take quite a chunk of time to put them all the way back up.
I’m no person to preach about being a goody-gumdrops kid but I definitely have respect for the consequences of my actions, both short-term and long-term. I’ve been marked up enough by my deeds to know that sometimes a good night just isn’t worth a month, year or life being worse off. We need less time rebuilding, and more time progressing forward.
Austin Czechowski is a sophomore at Cobleskill-Richmondville High School. Would you like A Word of Advice from him? Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send him a letter to “Teen Talk: A Word of Advice,” C/O The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.