Friendships change a lot over the years but towards the end of secondary school they form one of the strongest, most necessary pieces of our lives. Our friends often know more about us than our family. We share just about every experience with them.
It’s with our friends that we
- Make mistakes
- Try things out
- Share feelings
- Compare ourselves
- Seek advice
- Share music, clothes
But at the same time we are fine-tuning the sense of who we are as individuals.
- Developing our own set of values
- Making plans for the future
- Choosing our career paths
- Looking for someone special
At the same time we are sharing so much of our lives with our friends, we are also thinking and deciding more and more for ourselves. Friendships become a fine balance between being really close and independent and going our separate ways.
Along the way, there can be some pressure, hurt and disappointment.
When things get out of balance a plan can help.
When you’ve got a PROBLEM you need a PLAN!
see what Ben did….
Ben has a great group of friends. There’s always someone to do something with, whether it’s a game of basketball, hanging out at someone’s house or going to gatherings together.
There is a strong feeling of loyalty within the group. Parents are kept as uninformed as possible. If someone stuffs up, the others look out for him. Ben really enjoys that feeling of unconditional acceptance and he feels much freer with his friends than he does at home.
Last week Rob’s parents had gone away for the weekend and Rob had got some drinks and dope. Ben’s parents were allowing him the odd drink at home but weren’t happy about him drinking at parties before he was 18. Obviously drugs were totally off the menu! Ben can’t remember much about the party except that he was sitting on the trampoline, hammered, before he threw up.
The next day he felt really bad. In some ways he’d had a really good time, but he didn’t feel comfortable with what he had done and where this was heading. Another gathering was planned. He had already put in some money for dope. He knew his mates wouldn’t pressure him into anything… he felt pressure within himself to be part of the same experience. He was worried about not being able to resist when he got there. But the only alternative was to cut himself off from his friends.
Ben had a problem… He needed a plan!
STOP… What are you feeling?
Guilty, confused and stressed.
LOOK…What is happening?
Look at the problem from both sides.
My side: I’ve already done it. All my friends are, it’s just what everyone does. I don’t want to be the odd one out. Even if my friends don’t say anything, they will feel threatened if I stay straight while they’re stoned. I only feel guilty because my parents make me feel that way.
Another perspective: Others can’t make me feel guilty so I must know in my own heart that I shouldn’t be doing this. Just because I slipped up once doesn’t mean I can’t get back on track. I am only ‘using’ to be part of the group but there is more to me than being a member of that friendship group.
LISTEN…to your feelings.
What message are they giving you?
I feel worried about being isolated from my friends. Even though I enjoyed the feeling of being stoned, I still think it’s a pretty dumb thing to do. I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to resist the temptation when it’s right there in front of me. Part of me wants to belong and part of me wants to be myself.
THINK… What do I feel like doing?
Getting stoned and not worrying about it.
Is it a good idea?
… actually, no.
Will it mean more problems?
If smoking dope becomes the reason to hang out, is the group still worth being with? Things seem pretty amazing when you’re stoned. You feel really close to each other, but it’s not real. Soon the dependency on pot to have a good time spoils the group, as it becomes less and less real. Is it worth smoking dope for what is, in the end, an un-real friendship group.
What do I feel like doing?
Talking to my older brother and uncle about it all and asking their advice. Telling my closest friend in the group how I am feeling. Trying to avoid situations where I know dope will be smoked. Not hanging out so much with the group, but staying in touch with them individually. Hanging out with people who I know aren’t doing drugs. Trusting myself to be able to resist when others around me are smoking dope. Remembering that I am my own person and that, while friendships are important, I also have to be comfortable with being with myself.
- Do it. Stick to your plan
- Talk to people who might help
- Look at all the information