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“Peer pressure can wreck your life.”

Peer pressure. I’m sure to some it seems like such a minor issue for high school students. For me, the effects of peer pressure are much bigger than you think. I’ve seen it push my friends to do things they never dreamed they’d do, like underage drinking and becoming parents for the first time. Now they’re facing some real heavy consequences. In fact, I’ve even seen peer pressure push me to do things.

Looking back, I never thought it would be an issue for me. I mean, I come from a really supportive and loving family. There are many adults who I look up to and I’ve always tried to surround myself with positive people and experiences.

When I began high school, however, I found myself choosing the wrong group of friends. That led to some decisions I wasn’t proud of. To make matters worse, the consequences of peer pressure affected my academics. For the first time, my grades weren’t what they should have been. It was even hurting my group of friends. They were making mistakes that were going to stick with them the rest of their lives.

It’s been challenging, but I feel like I’ve really matured since ninth grade. I’m a junior now and focused on making good decisions. I joined the On Point teen board this year because I thought it would be a great way for me to meet and work with teens that are positive and motivated to make a difference. I also have a girlfriend. On Point has not only helped me with decision-making, but it’s also positively influenced my dating relationship.

Now that I’ve turned things around, I believe the one thing that helped me get my life back on track was my strong desire to “stand for something.” Being in On Point and the support I’ve received from my family, has really helped me do that. I would recommend On Point to any student who wants the support and positive influence of true friends. It’s not easy to make choices that are different from everyone else’s, but finding a place where my choices are supported—that really makes life easier!

After high school, Jaylen plans to attend The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and major in Architecture. Jaylen is active in YCAP, and the Child Evangelism Fellowship. He’s also heavily involved in his church, where he plays the drums.