It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. And in the game of Bad Habits, you will always come out a loser. As I laid in a tanning bed, I thought about how this bad habit was going to affect me in the long run. Even though I love the immediate benefits of this vice (golden, sun-kissed skin!), I can’t help but worry about my future as a leather-skinned freak. Is the bronze skin of today worth the skin cancer of tomorrow? Let’s examine the dangerous games we play and weigh whether the consequences are worth the benefits:
Why We Do It: I am addicted to the healthy glow I get from taking a 20 minute nap in my favorite tanning bed! I feel more relaxed, have less acne, and generally feel less self-conscious. When I’m feeling confident, I can stand up straighter, smile bigger, and show off my legs without feeling embarrassed. I feel like confidence enhances my life and I don’t want to go through my heyday without it.
Why We Shouldn’t: The reality is that, while I may feel cool and confident in my 20’s, I may be hitting up the dermatologist through my 30’s and beyond. If you expose yourself to tanning beds before age 35, your risk of developing melanoma increases 75%! Not only will I be spending my health insurance on removing cancerous or suspicious growths, I’ll be looking in a mirror at wrinkles and sagging skin. So, is the confident glow I see today going to be worth the leathery cancer-face in my future?
Why We Do It: I may be of the non-drinking persuasion, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see why others choose to do it. Alcohol loosens you up in social situations and relaxes you after a stressful week of classes. A rousing game of quarters can bring a group of people together and help you forget about that exam you may have bombed.
Why We Shouldn’t: Unfortunately, not too many college students know when to stop before getting out of control. Did you know that 31% of college students meet the criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse? Each year, 1,700 students die from alcohol related causes and over 719,000 will suffer from consequences such as injury, assault, rape and unprotected sex. Drinking one too many is not only terrible for your health and safety, but what about those embarrassing pictures of you on Facebook that Jerkface refuses to take down?! When you decide to drink at a party, you may spend 3 hours enjoying yourself, but think ahead to what the consequences might be.
Why We Do It: Nicotine creates that feel-good sensation, calming nerves in the way that adrenaline would during a terrifying public speech. After a long day of stressing out, girls reach for the cigs to chill and shake the anxiety. Some have even fallen for the myth that smoking will help you lose weight. Smoking is also considered a fun social activity that brings people together as they stand outside the smoke-free bar recounting what so-and-so just did with that blow up doll and a bottle of chocolate syrup.
Why We Shouldn’t: You may feel like that first puff is stripping away all your worries, but that’s just the endorphins talking. After that nicotine leaves your system an hour later, your problems will still be there except now you’ll have another one: poor health. And don’t think that smoking is a great alternative to getting a bod like Giselle! Once that nicotine raises your heart rate, blood pressure and labors your breathing, you won’t last two minutes on the treadmill. In fact, smoking will eventually increase your levels of bad cholesterol, damaging your arteries just like that Double-Double Burger you’ve been craving since Friday. Not to mention cancer, the stench, the expense and addiction!
Why We Do It: Women have fought for centuries against the double standard and today is the first era that sexual freedom and expression has finally reached near equality. If we meet a hot guy, we can hook up and never have to call him back (especially if dude has some rank breath and a collection of anime porn mags). Some girls may sleep with a guy because they are horny, bored, lonely, drunk, like him, or want attention. A swift roll in the hay can make a girl feel empowered and desired.
Why We Shouldn’t: Aside from any moral repercussions, casual sex can reek havoc on your body and state of mind! One in four college women have an STD, but only 10% of them know it. Look around your classroom one day…several girls sitting around you will be afflicted with one of these diseases and not even know it! Makes you want to remind all your girlfriends about carrying condoms, doesn’t it? Not only can hooking up increase your chances of being a regular at the gynecologist, but it can depress you too! Having a heat-of-the-moment night may seem like a blast, but what happens if you really like the guy and he doesn’t call? Biologically, women are hardwired with oxytocin to create a bond after intercourse. If this bond is broken, it can make it harder for us to trust guys and still feel good about ourselves.
So many choices, so much to think about.
Are you able to weigh the benefits of your habit with its consequences? Have you found a successful method of changing your ways? Bottom line, do you think indulging in vices today is worth harming your future?