Editor's Note: The Blue Mountain Eagle is publishing the winning essays from the "Above the Influence" contest held last month.

When we were asked to write about what it takes to be above the influence, I honestly thought, "Well, what's so bad about drinking or trying drugs just once, doesn't everyone?" Then it hit me, being "under the influence" is what everyone does. Something seemed wrong with that, isn't the number one goal of teens across America to be different from their peers? Don't we strive to be recognized and acknowledged as individuals?

It takes guts to face peer pressure. Many kids are easily influenced and shaken when it comes to their convictions, and many give into "the influence." Whether it's not getting high or just speaking out for what's right, it can be tough.

As hard as it can be to stand up to peer pressure, it's worth it in the long run! The choices we make today affect our lives tomorrow. Like the song says, "Make your own kind of music, sing your own special song!" that's what life is all about.

The truth is, giving into the influence makes us just like everyone else, and I know that I don't want to be just another face. I want to live my life to the fullest of all extremes. Extreme for me is snowboarding, I love it! If you need a rush then try something that will leave you breathless, not something that leaves you worse than before.

Everyone can follow the crowd, facing peer pressure and doing you own thing is what's hard. Be strong and live above the influence.

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