When I saw the first episodes of 16 and Pregnant or The Secret Life of the American Teenager, or watched the movie Juno, I was just starting out in high school. It seems that within the last few years, the issue of teen pregnancy has become somewhat mainstream. Maybe that’s because I wasn’t aware of the facts regarding teen pregnancy until then because they didn’t pertain to the 12-and-under crowd. But now, with my 17th birthday less than a month away, I feel somewhat proud of myself and my friends for being high school seniors who haven’t gotten themselves in some sort of crazy trouble. That may sound ridiculous, but I feel that shows like 16 and Pregnant did bring to light the fact that teens do get pregnant, and they showed the difficult truth of being a teen mother. My friends and I talk about how we can scroll down our Facebook or Twitter feeds and see pictures of a 16 year old showing off her growing belly with a caption saying “2 more months!” We all know at least one girl, maybe not personally, that got pregnant at our high school. We see girls showing off engagement rings that are still legally considered minors.
So why did I decide that those paths just aren’t for me? Aside from all those cringe-worthy images, the idea of making any life changing decision makes me want to freak out. I can barely decide where I’m applying to college, and just the thought of bringing a kid into the world anytime soon makes me tense. This is the time in my life where I get to have fun and not have to worry about taxes or babies or paying bills. Why would I want to complicate that?
I’m lucky enough to attend the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville. I could go on all day about how amazing my school is. My teachers and the students encourage me to push myself past my limits and achieve what I never imagined I could. I devote time to what I love, and that commitment motivates me to be the best I can be. So, surrounded by supportive teens who love the same things I do and inspired by those who have come before me, I can stay driven, and I can focus on what really matters to me right now. I’m trying to absorb all that I can while I have the chance, and I won’t let pregnancy become a factor in determining my future.
by Lizzy Rhodes, Summer 2013 Student Volunteer, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy