Did you know that your frontal lobe is not fully developed until you are 22 years old?
What significance does this have to teenagers like you and me?
The human brain is composed of three main sections: the forebrain (or the frontal lobe), the midbrain, and the hindbrain. The frontal lobe is the largest and most complex part; it holds the cerebrum.
The cerebrum contains the information that essentially makes us who we are: our intelligence, memory, personality, emotion, speech, ability to feel and move, and—last but definitely not least—the ability to realize that there are consequences for our actions.
Instead of seeing what you have just read as an irrelevant biology lesson, it might be helpful to understand the importance.
Take a look around you.
The majority of the population consists of crazy teens doing crazy things. The scenarios are so various…
You’ve been waiting over a year to get that new car, or at least that license. You’re blind to everything around you once your foot finally slams on the gas pedal. More often than not, this kind of blindness results in your very first speeding ticket. "I wasn’t thinking" is the number one excuse.
It’s Friday night. Party it up! Can’t have a good party without alcohol, right? But in the morning, somehow there’s a YouTube video of you dancing half-naked on a coffee table. Hungover, with your head leaning over the toilet seat, you say to yourself, "I wasn’t thinking."
The pregnancy test came out positive. "I wasn’t thinking."
The principle wants to know why you beat that poor girl’s face in for "flirting with your boyfriend". "I’m sorry, Mr. Becker, I wasn’t thinking."
The midterms come and go. You glance at your score and cringe. Looks like you’re going to have to retake that class…again. "I wasn’t thinking." Of course you weren’t. You had spent the entire semester cheating off the nerd to the right of you.
Countless times we do things in the spur of the moment without even halting for a second to analyze how this is going to affect the future.
"It’s just a one time thing" takes second place to the previously mentioned excuse. Instead of wasting time coming up with reassurances, why not put that energy into at least trying to understand that "one timers" turn into habits, turn into crutches that we later begin to rely on.
Once you experience that high, it’s really hard to go back—from alcohol, from drugs, from finally getting that A (even if it was the result of skillful cheating), releasing your anger out on whoever even dared to give you a dirty look, etc. But is getting that high, that adrenaline rush, even worth it if it’ll have a negative effect?
But that’s the thing.
So many young girls and boys wouldn’t be out there doing half the things they do if they only realized how these things would affect them.
As teens, we like to live off the present. "Why worry about the future?" they say. "Live life as if there’s no tomorrow!" But how you live today affects how you will live tomorrow.
How you finish one thing is how you will start another.
What you put in today is exactly what you will get out tomorrow.
In the spur of the moment, alcohol feels…good. After a while, you become dependent on it for a "good time" and doing anything else seems boring and simply…out of the question. But there’s a reason the legal drinking age is 21 and not 12. Our frontal lobe is not developed until around the age of 22, and the law is trying to preserve it.
While cheating on a test may not have any physical outcomes, it also turns into a dependency. There’s no need to study for that quiz when you know the kid next to you has the best GPA in the class, right? When this becomes a habit, you get into college and see just how far apart the desks are from one another. Then you realize you’re screwed. Looks like you’ll have to resort to that studying thing the rest of the school did while you were busy updating your MySpace™ page. Or you may not be so lucky. If you are caught cheating, it’s the school’s right and policy to put you on a list that will follow you around for the rest of your life, making it a considerable amount harder to get into a desirable college.
Who ever heard of sitting down and talking to resolve a problem? No way! That’s what boring adults do. The cool thing to do is to fight it out, right? It’s instant attention. And on top of getting your teeth messed up, you gain yourself a reputation—whether you want it or not. People’s outlook on you changes, even if they were the same people whistling and cheering you on as you blew that final punch. During a fight, the last thing people realize is that—even though it is a big world—we all still share it.
The people we disrespect, gossip about, cheat off of, etc. are the same people who may very well become our boss one day. Seems unlikely? The risk’s not worth it—wait and see.
Not all consequences are bad. What you choose to plant today is what you will harvest tomorrow. The better the choices, the better the outcome.
Life is a long math equation. We don’t always see the solution right away, but what you add and subtract now is what we will equal later.
What is fun now is not always worth it later.
Let’s prove statistics wrong and make the best of our undeveloped minds!
Remember, you only have one life to live…but if you live it right, once is enough.
by Alyssa Rudyshin