Teen years are risky business

By Kris Ferrazza | Aug 09, 2018

News that the Lobster Festival Sea Goddess was dethroned last week got me thinking about the teen years.

In case you live under a rock (like a crustacean) and missed it, the goddess was asked to step down after photos from social media were shared with pageant officials and festival organizers. The pictures apparently showed her vaping and using marijuana while underage.

Mainly, I think the debacle serves as a cautionary tale to youth about the dangers of social media. But beyond that, what interested me most was the reaction from the public. In many of the posts I read, people commented that all teens are smoking and vaping. Furthermore, they opined that most of the adults in the community do the same and worse, so don’t judge. Wait, what?

Call me Pollyanna, but I do not believe everyone in the Midcoast is using. And while I try not to judge the choices people make, I do believe they will live with the consequences of their decisions. Also, when a person joins a pageant, they are asking to be judged. Literally. There is a panel of judges. So why get upset when they get, well, judgy?

When I was in high school in the ‘80s, Nancy Reagan was in the midst of telling us to “Just Say No.” Marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes were illegal for high school teens, despite the fact they were everywhere.

But for a rule-following goody two-shoes like myself, that “Just Say No” message meant something.

For many, it was a joke...a punchline. People berated the First Lady then and now for being naive in thinking she could simply tell kids to “Just Say No,” and they would do it. And it’s true, for a lot of the kids, it could have meant nothing. But call me crazy, for a few teens like me, it actually sort of worked.

Her message joined the chorus I was hearing from my teachers, my parents, my neighbors, and a few well-behaved peers. That message was that drugs and alcohol would mess up my young life, and that all I had to do was say no.

The fact that these substances were illegal also came into play in my young decision-making process. The daughter of a retired cop, I felt they had to be illegal for a reason. That meant I should think long and hard about that before breaking the law. My young mind believed the adults in charge were only looking out for me.

Now that I look back on it, maybe I was a little Pollyanna. But when I read about the number of fatalities, overdoses, car crashes, domestic incidents, assaults, pain and misery that use and abuse lead to, who is the naive one here?

Teens are notorious in engaging in risky behaviors. There were kids who smoked in my high school, and classmates who used cocaine in college. I attended parties where I walked in on students doing lines and offered me some. I retreated into my “Just Say No” upbringing.

Just because I never used drugs or took up smoking doesn’t mean I was squeaky clean. I did risky things because I was young and stupid. And I did embarrassing things that could have gotten me dethroned. I would have deserved it, frankly.

Drugs and alcohol weren’t my thing, but I had other things. I tended to do stupid things with my car piled full of friends that didn't seem dangerous at all. We had close scrapes that I look back on now and shake my head. My guardian angel was working overtime.

Without going into great detail, I put my friends and me in dangerous situations that involved bridges, blueberry barrens and speeding trains. We had various close calls, always with the radio blaring and lots of laughter, that could have ended suddenly and tragically. We were stone sober every time.

We were young, with little life experience and way too much time on our hands. Trusted by the adults around us, exactly because we were “good kids,” we regularly put ourselves in stupid situations that could have killed us. There were sandbars, incoming tides, late nights and icy roads that could have claimed us 1,000 times over again.

As a parent it brings tears to my eyes to think about it. And with a daughter due to take driver’s education classes in just a few short years, it makes my blood run cold.

The bottom line is I don’t demonize anyone for the decisions they have made, because if we are honest with ourselves, we all have done a lot of idiotic things in our time. But at the end of the day, we live with the choices we’ve made. Sometimes you get away with it, and sometimes you aren’t so lucky.

Fortunately for my peers and me, there was no social media to record our bone-headed moves. Otherwise, I’d have certainly lost my crown.

And the beat goes on.


Kris Ferrazza is a former reporter, assistant editor, copy editor and columnist with the Courier newspapers. She lives in Waldoboro.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Sonya L Myers | Aug 12, 2018 00:14

As someone who does not think it’s okay for society to be making pot socially acceptable to the degree in which it is I also believe as you and myself and most all teens make mistakes and IF PAST MEDIA AND BEHAVIORS WERE GROUNDS FOR DISQUALIFICATION IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN PART OF VETTING, criteria or guidelines but most importantly part of “teaching” not “punishment” or public humiliation. She’s honorable and respected for owning her part and stating she doesn’t condone or pretend it was not a mistake   I also feel ALL should have been held to the same standards   Positive changes will come for the future I’m sure.

Posted by: Edwin E Ecker | Aug 10, 2018 16:14

Very well put Kris !

I too was "old school' about life in the 70's and had my share of missteps and embarrassing moments but held onto my narrow moral upbringing, at least until I was too old to make a difference.

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Aug 09, 2018 15:41

I respect honesty! Thank you! We were all kids once and somehow we all survived, thankfully.

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