Last night I had a chat with my daughter who is eleven. I recently told her that I sometimes smoked. Most people who know me do not know that I smoke, even close friends are generally somewhat surprised when they find out. I don’t smoke very much, and I was asking my daughter how she felt about it. Her opening line was ‘It’s okay that you smoke, but if you ever have to go to the hospital for it, then you have to stop’. I agreed this was a somewhat savvy plan. I also agreed with her that rather than smoking by myself, I would just smoke when I saw friends who also smoked. She then asked me if I felt that I had to smoke to fit in, which kind of made me smile.
The first time I ever smoked I was eleven, same age as my daughter is now. I had one puff of a cigarette that one of my mum’s friend’s daughter had. I felt mildly curious about the experience, I don’t recall feeling any pressure to participate. It made me feel sick to my stomach, it was utterly disgusting. For years afterwards, I was still the only person in my social circles that had, and I fielded a lot of questions. Smoking brought attention. Around the age of fifteen, I started smoking whole cigarettes, possibly as many as twenty in a whole year, so clearly I was hardening to the habit. I mostly smoked with people that were somewhat cooler than me, and I felt incredibly endorsed. By eighteen, I was one of the few people in my social circles that actually smoked semi-regularly.
When I think as to my reasons why they were largely socially orientated. It gave me something to do, something to keep occupied, and people engaged with me if they wanted a cigarette or a light. It gave me purpose. It also gave me a barrier. Smoke created me a bubble of personal space.
Over the years I have gone through phases of smoking lots (university exams) and not smoking at all, sometimes for years at a time. It always seems to start off social then ebb into solitary smoking. But now I have entered into an agreement with my young one, and this is something that I take very seriously. So despite knowing that I could easily smoke, I will remove this from my routine and find some less destructive things to do with my time instead. Or possibly just become very sociable with those that still do..
Map Point. Why do I choose to engage in things that are bad for my health?