The Decision

“I just had a rather unproductive day… I’ve mostly watched tiktok/youtube and waited for the nic to wear off of my system so I could get a dizzy. That’s actually why I sat down to write. I want so badly to be absolutely done with nicotine. I’m going to write a pros and cons list:

“I knew the list would turn out that way, but I just needed to see it on paper. I am DONE after the one I have runs out. D-O-N-E.”

-Journal entry, 9/18/21

The above excerpt is taken from a journal page written on an auspicious night during my sophomore year of college. I had been vaping for nearly a year. That night was my point of no return, my hard stop, my first act closing number going into intermission. My decision was fierce and solid. I was DONE.

Of course, I didn’t quit cold turkey. Quitting nicotine is hard. Mistakes were made and cravings were given into. That night, however, changed my mindset and my path. Previously, I hadn’t held the conviction to get rid of the vice of nicotine. The pros and cons list existed only in my mind. I shoved it to the back, hid it with concerns about my future and that one song that constantly runs on repeat underneath all brain activity. I didn’t allow it to come to the forefront and confront me with the obviousness of the choice. It was out of focus, blurry.

Everything came together on September 18th. It felt like sliding my glasses on for the first time, the blurriness of the unofficial list suddenly sharply clear. My pen was unstoppable. The pros and cons spilled onto the page, and a page of craving busters followed soon after. I made a plan, and I provided myself with resources that would help me through. I scribbled a list of advice from online sources: avoid alcohol, exercise, drink lots of water, rest, stay positive, do NOT give in to cravings. I even wrote a letter for myself, for moments of weakness when I would look back and ask why am I doing this to myself? The words I wrote that night still inspire me to this day, seeing how scared yet determined I had been.

This poster hangs over my desk and has since September 2021.

My conviction wasn’t the only thing that pushed me over the edge. I thought about my grandma, who had passed away in August from lung related complications. I thought about my mom, looking at me in disappointment and concern upon finding a stash of my empty vapes. I thought about my friends, the people I’ve chosen to love and support endlessly, addicted to this harmful substance alongside me. All of it together pushed tears out of my eyes as I wrote and wrote and wrote. I was done.

A ScienceDirect article entitled “Quitting e-cigarettes: Quit attempts and quit intentions among youth and young adults,” details research on how young e-cigarette users feel about quitting vaping, saying, “…33.3% reported a past-year quit attempt, 15.3% reported serious intentions to quit, and 54.2% reported general intentions to quit.”  Half of all young e-cigarette users have intentions to quit using nicotine. Many, however, make an attempt and subsequently fall back into their habit. It’s a hard one to break. I wanted to better my odds, to not be part of the third of users who tried to quit but couldn’t make it stick. I downloaded an app soon after the 18th of September: QuitVaping. I texted “DITCHVAPE” to the This is Quitting number by the truth initiative. I was ready to embark on this treacherous journey in order to free myself, and eventually my friends, from nicotine’s iron clutches.

“Gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss, get rid of nicotine,” were the final words of my journal entry on September 18th. Words I decided to live by.

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By Sophie Rounds

Sophie Rounds is a rising junior at Loyola University Chicago, double majoring in creative writing and Spanish. She loves to read and wishes she were a better cook. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys singing in several choirs at her university and thrifting with her friends.

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