You don’t need to start smoking in Grade 9 only because your peers are looking down on you or they treat you like a fool. If you smoke with them and drop out with them, know that somewhere along the way, they will drop you as well.

You don’t need to start dating a guy with a car at the age of sixteen. He will control you, because in his mind, you are young and naive to reason with him. The car he is driving will never be yours. If he sleeps with you in the car, his main chick in a hotel room and his wife at home, then you are nothing compared to these two and you are nothing to him.

You are but one of his options to relieve himself from the stresses he gets from home; one of his options when the boredom gets better of him. You are one of the jokes he enjoys sharing with his friends when boasting about how good they are at fooling their wives.

You don’t need to use the money that your parents worked hard for, to buy them alcohol on Saturdays, and get evicted from Maths class for not having a calculator on Monday. They are not even counting the favours you do for them and how much you spend on them. Yet they don’t even help you with the assignments you fail at school. Mess up with them and you will see that you have no place in their hearts.

You will not get arrested for departing from them whenever they talk about booze and their lovers. You will not go to hell for spending a weekend reading. And you will definitely not be putting shame on your parents by investing your time in what will change your life from bad to better and from better to best.

You may share all the jokes and lies today. But they will be gone one day. Your future is your future and yours alone. If they can’t listen to your dreams, then they can’t help you build them; they’re better at helping you dig your grave. You don’t need to be one of them, you just have to be one among them.