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My father had assumed that I was not going to graduate from Samoana High School because I was hanging out with the wrong crowd. He thought that the peer pressure was getting to me and taking me off the island was his solution to this problem. According to an online resource (Good Therapy, Peer Pressure, 2019), Research has long shown peer pressure can increase the risk someone will try drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. Some people are more affected by peer pressure than others, just as some people are more likely to experience addiction than others. While some people may experiment with alcohol or drugs once or twice and decide it’s not for them, others who begin using a substance may find it difficult to quit. In some cases, people may continue using the substance as part of social activity, such as drinking at parties or smoking because everyone else is taking a smoke break. Unspoken peer pressure can play a significant role in substance use. If friends are drinking, smoking, or using drugs, someone who would avoid using these substances on their own may feel that participation will help them fit in with friends. Seeing peers use substances regularly can also give the impression that the substances are safe to use or won’t have any negative effects. Unspoken pressure to conform can play a significant role in substance use. According to a 2012 study, passive peer pressure has a greater effect on teen smoking than active pressure. In other words, teens with friends who smoke are more likely to also smoke.

Positive peer pressure, on the other hand, can help prevent substance abuse and addiction. Research suggests that simply having friends who choose not to smoke, use drugs, or drink alcohol can make it less likely young people will use substances.

I like this last part about positive peer pressure. My father was right about this peer pressure thing because he only saw my friends who he thought were negative influences on me. What he did not see or did not know about was that I also had good friends, those who were only interested in school and sports. These were the friends that kept me honest with my schoolwork. However, what my father does not see, he does not care for. So off I went to North Carolina and the worst thing about his decision was that I was being tricked into thinking that I was going on a summer vacation.

I found out about how he tricked me into thinking that I was going on a summer vacation with my mother the day we arrived at my uncle’s home in N.C. As we were unpacking, I got hold of our airline tickets and started to compare the two. My mother’s itinerary showed that her final destination was Pago Pago, American Samoa. Mine was telling me that I was being dumped there in Fayetteville, N.C., and, judging by the neighborhood, this was a straight country, nothing but white folks’ land.

Did my father not want me back? Did I deserve to be left in this strange land? Was my mother part of this devious plan? I am a momma’s boy and the only reason I went along with this decision was because of my mother. She talked me into thinking that my father had made the right decision and that everything was going to be alright. The day my mother left N.C., my whole world fell to pieces. I did not have a single friend there in Fayetteville, I had a family but they were not my friends.

My mother had told me that this was for my good and that she had made my father agree that I was to come back home after I graduated from high school. I felt a little better but it did not last long. The day my mother left N.C., my whole world fell to pieces. I did not have a single friend there in Fayetteville, I had a family but they were not my friends.

You see, to a sixteen-year-old kid, being dumped in a strange land amongst strange people could leave a scar that would and did take a while to heal. My new family did not see the emotions that I was feeling because I kept it to myself. I wonder what they would have done if they had only known that I was contemplating the thought of committing suicide. According to (Dennis-Tiwary, 2018) In addition to knowing that mental illness, high levels of stressful life events, and a prior history of suicide attempts put individuals at risk, other psychological risk factors that we sometimes write off as “normal teen stuff” can also be warning signs. While the storm and stress of adolescence can be expected, pay close attention to whether your teen is showing changes—more intense and frequent bouts—of irritability, sadness, and depression, a strong sense of failure, major conflict with family or peers, or the major loss of loved one or experience of humiliation or shame. Researchers and clinicians are also learning more about the role of these risk factors:

Some of the things that Dennis-Tiwary was saying were exactly what I was feeling at that moment. Sadness, depression, and a sense of failure, believe me, I felt it all. I thought about ending my life quite a many times but the vision of my mother’s face prevented that thought from ever becoming a reality. Also, one of my close friends did it, he took his own life, just the year before and all everybody said of him was that he was stupid. Was I willing to go down that same road my friend took? I had seen the effects, his poor decision had on his parents and it was not something I would want my parents to go through, especially my mother. I had blamed my father for everything, all the pain I endured for a whole year was his fault, and his alone. I swallowed all of those negative feelings knowing that one day I would be going home and like the saying goes, “Payback is a bitch”.

The prodigal son has returned and before he can act on his payback plans, he was told to go back to school, this time at ASCC. I did not want any more schooling, 12 years was enough! Unfortunately for me, my father was hell-bent on me getting a college degree, so, it was either his way or the highway. I chose his way along with a lot of convincing from my mother. I just figured that I was not doing this for my father but it was because of my mother. I had no choice but to go to school, plus I could also plot my payback while getting money from the federal grants that I heard so much about.

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My plan for my payback/revenge against my father was simple; take the money he was giving me for school and spend it on drugs and alcohol. From 1995 to 1999, four years, I was having the time of my life at ASCC. Get high, get drunk, go home, and come back the next day and do it again. While I thought that I was hurting my father in some sort of way, the truth was, that I was only hurting myself. It was in the Spring Semester of 1999 that reality struck. I got caught with marijuana on the school campus and my revenge was heading to jail.

According to (Carlsmith, Wilson, & Gilbert, 2008), people tend to believe that retribution of some kind effectively releases the tension and anger someone feels toward the transgressor and his action, and that payback helps to assuage negative emotions, supplanting them with positive ones. But, in their studies, while participants thought they’d feel better after exacting revenge, the researchers found the very opposite. It wasn’t just that punishing the transgressor didn’t provide a release but that it made participants focus on and ruminate about both the transgressor and the transgression more, especially if the person had taken revenge himself rather than simply witnessing it. Their findings expanded on other research that showed that the supposed cathartic effect of revenge is largely a fiction. The researchers connected the mistaken notion of what revenge would deliver to the evidence that, more generally, people aren’t very good at affective forecasting, or predicting how both future actions (and inactions) will make them feel.

Talk about a plan backfiring and hitting you straight in the face. I was locked up in jail, which brought shame to my family, and the worst part of all of this was that my mother was the person who got hurt the most. I could already hear my father telling her that it was her fault that I was the way I was. I got out after spending the weekend in jail, no charges were filed against me, and I was going to deal with the hardest thing I ever had to do, which was facing my mother. At this point in my life, I did not care one bit about my father. My resentment towards him was so strong that I was not going to give him the satisfaction of apologizing to him. Once again, my mother asked me to talk with my father and try to work things out, and eventually thankfully we did.

I was expelled from ASCC and I would not be able to go back until after 10 years. So, from 1999 to 2009, I went to work. I started at fish cleaning at Star Kist Samoa; I liked the job and the working environment but I hated smelling like fish all the time even when I was at home. So, after a year or so, I quit and got another job working for a local wholesaler. A few years later, I also quit that job. My parents were getting older and my mother wanted me to stay home and tend to them; my father wanted the same thing but he had too much pride to even ask me. So here I was, jobless and living off my parents until the year 2009, that’s the year I lost both of my parents.

My mother was the first to pass away and after we laid my father in his final resting place, only a few months later, I became lost and finally had no guidance in my life. I had felt that there were no more reasons to live, but suicide was never considered an option. I did not have the slightest care in the world. The only things I did was eat, shit, and sleep and this went on for months. I and so did many people in my family thought that I was only a lazy-ass who did not want to look for a job to support myself. If only they knew that I was in a state that psychologists called bereavement.

Bereavement is the state of loss when someone close to an individual has died. A wide and confusing range of emotions may be experienced after a loss. The bereaved may experience crying spells, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, or lack of productivity at work. At first, one may find it hard to accept that the loss has occurred. Feelings of anger may also arise. The anger may be directed toward doctors and nurses, God, other loved ones, oneself, or even the person who has died. The grieving person may experience feelings of guilt, with sentiments such as ‘I should have…’, ‘I could have…’, or ‘I wish I had…’ Emotions may be very intense, and the bereaved person may have mood swings. These are all normal reactions to loss. (Psychology Today, 2019)

Bereavement or whatever it was, I knew that I had to snap out of it and get my life back on track. The first thing I did was to find a job. I was pretty handy with all kinds of power tools so I got a job in construction, basically building residential homes. Life was good but construction is hard work and I was thinking that there has to be something better.

It was now 2014 and to get to where I wanted to be, I had no choice but to go back to school. I started slowly because I had an outstanding bill I had to take care of first but sure enough I was going to get it done. I was motivated because of my need for a change. Motivation comes in different sizes and shapes and according to Boundless Psychology (2015), Maslow’s theory defines motivation as the process of satisfying certain needs that are required for long-term development. According to Maslow, a need is a relatively lasting condition or feeling that requires relief or satisfaction, and it tends to influence action over the long term. Some needs (like hunger) may decrease when satisfied, while others (like curiosity) may not. Maslow’s theory is based on a simple premise: human beings have needs that are hierarchically ranked. Some needs are basic to all human beings, and in their absence, nothing else matters. We are ruled by these needs until they are satisfied. After we satisfy our basic needs, they no longer serve as motivators and we can begin to satisfy higher-order needs.

I graduated in the Spring Semester of 2017 with my AA degree and as evidenced by this paper, I am back in school looking for more. Do I consider those years between 1995 and 2017 to be “Wasted Years”? Let’s see, I learned that drugs and school do not mix well, I learned the value of the dollar, I learned that parents, in their way, just want us to be successful in life, and I learned that hard work pays off! So, no, I do not consider those years to be “Wasted Years”, instead, I would call it, “My Life Lessons Years”.

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