Not going to lie, this will be a very blatantly honest and open confession.
To many, they would often take one look at me and say, “Gina, you look like a goody two shoes.” You know, the kind who doesn’t make dirty jokes nor like to hear them or drink or smoke or go to clubs or do all the nasty things that nasty girls do. I guess that’s true. All my life, I’m blessed with good company. And when I say good, I meant good in a sense that they have been positive peer influences in my life. It is perhaps for that reason that I have come so far.
Having lived as a youngest child in the family, I have the luxury of watching my elder siblings make their mistakes in life first and learn from observation. I also have a close relationship with my parents, who would often tell me things like: “Don’t pick up smoking like your brother did” or “you better not party like your sister did”. Always eager to please, being the youngest and all, I followed my parents’ wishes. If they told me they’d be disappointed in me if I picked up smoking, I steered clear away from smokers. If they told me they’d be upset if I went to clubs, I’d smile and turn down every invitation.
My refusal to pick up these vices may be admirable to some, off-putting to others. It doesn’t matter, as long as I kept the peace.
Two weeks ago, while I was out at lunch, a colleague of mine offered me a stick. I flatly rejected it, thinking of all the things my friends and family would say if I were to take a puff. What if I got addicted? I chided myself. The atrocity, I thought. I’d be letting so many people down. I’d be a disappointment. A week ago, she did the same. I told her I had a different vice. 3 days ago, she offered again. I smiled this time and said softly, no, not this time.
Today, she offered a stick again. I regret to say I finally gave in and took a puff. As I reached for the stick, my mind and heart sank. A part of me started loathing myself at that moment when I decided to give it a try. It was like my conscience knew this was not going to turn out well for me, but the devil inside whispered, just one this time.
Nevertheless, I inhaled cautiously the first time and blew the smoke out. As I exhaled and watched the smoke escape, I started to think of all the many instances I said no to an opportunity of an experience, be it a good or bad one. Too many to count.
…But why? I asked myself as I took another puff. I started to remember all those times I thought to myself that everything would change if I took one wrong step. If I went to bars and clubs, I’ll ruin myself. If I started smoking, people would look down on me.
But look at me now, I said to myself as I took another puff, a bit less cautiously this time.
The world is still spinning. And things didn’t change as drastically as I thought they would. I’m still standing here. I’ve had the experience of my first puff and I can safely say that it was nothing special, or life-changing, or anything like that at all. It didn’t taste terrible, but it didn’t taste that good as well, and I still wonder why people would consider putting one in their mouths even though it doesn’t taste like anything special and it isn’t good for the health as well. At least alcohol makes you happy for a while. At least I know that now.
I’m at my last puff and I wonder why I’ve spent my life living in fear of being judged, being constantly on edge and teetering on that fine line of good and evil. What does it matter what people say about me as long as I am happy? What’s holding me back? I had to ask myself. Suddenly, the answer was clear, but the smoke blurred my vision a little. I smiled a little, and had to wonder if it was blurring or clearing my vision in a metaphorical sense.
I looked down at the stick that’s half turned to ashes. This little puff session was rather invigorating, I thought to myself, and I dare say, it brought a fresh new perspective to my life.