By Jael Shatlock I'm 17 and a junior in High school.  I started this year fully confident that I was changed.  I believed I would live my life for the better, and be a good example to others.

Unfortunately, that confidence went down the toilet pretty quickly.

I had no friends last year, and I trusted no one.  So when I actually became close with two new girls this year, I got pretty caught up in it.   I couldn’t stop thinking about how “cool” they were, and I quickly found myself turning back into my old self.   I didn’t realize right away how costly this friendship was going to be.

I used to wear a lot of labels.  “Rebellious Partier.”  “Druggie.”  “Horrible Sister.”  Stuff like that.  I thought I was past it, but after going back and forth with this new friendship, I somehow found myself in the woods, bag of marijuana in one hand, makeshift pipe in the other.  I knew it was a mistake, even if they called it “experiencing life.”

As I walked out of the woods, that feeling of guilt and shame hit me.  I had snuck out of my little brother’s basketball game to get high, and I was ashamed of the example I was setting for him.  I lay in bed that night, and all those labels came spinning back into my head.  I started wondering they were true.  Maybe I was better off as a druggie

I tried to cut the friendship off, but it turns out we had been spied that day in the woods, and someone turned us in.  I got suspension that first time, but I could never shake the impression I left on my school administration.  After a few more bad decisions, and a few genuine mix-ups, I was expelled.

The worst part is that out of all the dumb things I’ve done, the final thing that got me expelled was a lie.  The girls made it up, but my labels made it believable.

And that’s where I am now.  Expelled, and caught up again in the same old labels.  Plus a new one: victim.

I have 3 choices, going on from here:

  1. I can live in the past, and refuse to forgive myself for my mistakes
  2. I can accept the labels and let them dictate my future choices.
  3. I can forgive myself, forgive the girls, move forward, and start fresh.

I choose #3.   Why?  Because no matter how much I sometimes believe those labels, I know they aren’t me.  They can describe me if I let them, but I can also be something different.  So day by day I’m rejecting the labels all over again, and trying to embrace yet another second chance.

On this NO QUIT MONDAY, I choose to move forward instead of letting my labels keep me trapped in place.