Student copes with regret from past smoking habit

Sydney Rhines, Editor-in-Chief

The feeling of having to cough while sick is all too common in students. But what if you could not stop? Five minutes goes by and you are still coughing. What if your chest feels like it is on fire and pins are in your lungs.
These are probably the two worst constant reminders of my past habit: smoking.
I began smoking at the ripe age of 13. I was surrounded by my friends in an alleyway.
When I began, of course I knew the dangerous effects that smoking had on the body. I attended all of the drug classes and health seminars everyone else did. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the effects of cigarettes.
What I did not know, however, was the mental and emotional effects it could have on a person. I never knew the desolation I would feel after four years of smoking. I never knew the destruction it would have on my family.
I was never pressured into trying it. My friends were individually smoking their own cigarettes around me while I inhaled their second-hand smoke. I thought I would be edgy if I did it, though.
I did not want to be seen as the only person not doing it. It seemed like it was cooler to do than simply standing around with them.
From that day forth, I had a disgusting habit. At that moment, I wish I knew so many different things.
I wish I knew that my best friend’s mother was going to develop lung cancer from her own smoking habits, or about the chest pains I would eventually get.
I wish I knew about the excruciating headaches after chain smoking.
I wish I knew how bad I would feel when my best friend, Ryan, got drunk and chain smoked in front of me. His voice still echoes through my head when he told me I should never start, forgetting that I already had years ago.
I wish I knew the reaction I would receive when people saw such a young smoker in front of them. I wish I had listened when my sister’s friend, Alex, who told me I should stop while I was just starting. It would have been much easier to quit then.
I wish I knew the devastation in my mother’s voice when I called her up and told her. If I knew the disappointment in my grandmother’s eyes when she walked in on me taking a drag of a cigarette, I doubt I would have begun smoking in the beginning.
If I knew how hard the road to quitting was going to be, I would have never begun.
After a long period of withdrawal and relapse, I learned that not feeling the continual need to have a cigarette is much better than the ‘cool’ feeling I falsely thought I would receive once I started.
Having the feeling of accomplishment after reaching my goal of quitting after four years of smoking is much more rewarding than the feeling of smoking ever could be. The proud feeling after letting go from the habit continues to be the greatest one I have had yet.