The Choice is Yours!
- by Kala Johnston, Think Twice Educator In the current culture we live in, it would seem that it is inevitable that all teenagers are engaging in sexual activity. The media, movies, music, and television would have society believing and accepting that teenagers are not only engaging in sexual activity but that it is normal and developmentally appropriate. This however, according to the Center for Disease Control, is not only inaccurate but leads to teenagers experimenting with risky behaviors. The truth of the matter is that delaying sexual debut until you are in a long-term, committed, monogamous relationship is the healthiest and safest option for your relationships, education, and future.
It is really important to have all the information so we can make mature, honest decisions about what is best for our own personal health and well-being. The CDC states that in 2019, 63% of high school students are not sexually active and have never had sex before. This might seem like a surprising number when we compare what we see in our media and entertainment culture that portrays sexual engagement as an everyday, common occurrence among teenagers, and this simply is not true.
The truth is, that delaying sexual activity can eliminate all risks associated with sexual intercourse and intimacy until both partners are mature enough to handle the natural consequences that come from sex. There is a sure-fire guarantee to reaching your goals and dreams in the future, and it’s to make a plan now and stick to it! It is up to you to decide what situations you will allow yourself to get into, what truth or what lies you will choose to believe, and what choices you can make to help you to succeed in your life.
If I asked you to look ahead in 10 years, where would you see yourself? Would you go to college, or a trade school? Would you have a job? Would you be a productive member of society, contributing your talents and skills? Maybe you dream of being a professional athlete, or a musician? Do you have dreams of owning your own business or living in lots of interesting places in the world?
What choices do you need to make today to ensure that your future has the most possibilities for success? Maybe you need to study hard to get into the college or training you will need later. You might need to get a job right now, to save money to get a car so you can start becoming more mobile and have more opportunities. Maybe you need to invest a lot of time, money and energy into honing your musical skills or working with people who can push you physically to reach your goals of being a professional athlete. All these things will demand sacrifice from you, it will be challenging and difficult.
Now imagine that you decided to get a boyfriend/girlfriend. You really enjoy spending time with them. You go to the movies, go get milkshakes and fries and talk for hours about what life will be like when you are in college, or on your own. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to make a very adult decision to have sex and then find out that you are pregnant? How would that impact your dreams for the future? Could you still finish college on time? Could you be a professional athlete? Absolutely you could, but it is going to be even more difficult than it was when you were making choices that kept you on track.
When we look at the choices that we make, it can be difficult to stick to a decision that makes you feel isolated or alone. It might seem like everyone else is having sex and there are no consequences. It might also seem like everyone else has an easier life or that you will never find true love. Although it may seem as though you are all alone, you are not. There are plenty of your peers that have also made this decision, maybe not for the same reason as you, but well over half of all teenagers are not having sex at all. This should be very encouraging to you to know that you are not alone. There are a lot of options for you as well if you feel lonely like get into a club at school, volunteer helping with a community program, get involved in a church or youth group. Find things you enjoy and look for ways to engage others in a healthy, safe way. It will add joy to your life and give you commonality with your peers.
No one can make your decision for you, the choice is yours! It’s up to you to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Your family and friends may have influence, but the choice is yours. In the event that someone took advantage of you, hurt you physically or sexually, please know that there is help available for you. Find a trusted adult or friend who can get you help and know that you can still make the choice to delay sexually activity on your terms. You might have also made a choice previously to have sex, you can start today and decide that from this moment on you are going to wait to have sex again until you are with a life-long partner. Our past decisions don’t have to ruin our future lives, but some decisions can make it harder to obtain our goals or delay us in seeing the reward for all of our hard work.
Keep making choices that help you be the healthiest you can be. Keep encouraging others to do the same. Dream big and work hard! The choice is yours.