For my first trick, I need to tackle . . . smoking! Yes, smoking. I’m aware how uncool smoking is, how bad it is for your lungs, smell, finances, etc. That said, I cling to smoking even though I’ve tried a million times to quit.
I’m not sure how I got started. I hated smoking as a kid. Both of my parents smoked, and my friends in elementary school (and their snotty, bougie PTA moms) would constantly decry the smell on my clothes and the horrors of letting their precious children enter our smoke-den. Although their complaints were likely well-founded (considering the documented health risks of smoking), I hated those women. I also associated my parents’ habit with the embarrassment that came from having friends that couldn’t come over or having clothes that smelled like something that would never come out.
Oddly enough, this didn’t turn me off of smoking for long. In fact, it created an association between people who were concerned about second-hand smoke and snobbery. In my mind, non-smokers and anti-smokers were preachy, entitled, and obnoxious. Although in high school I’d had maybe one or two errant puffs of a cigarette, my college rebellion (combined with residence in Winston-Salem and a lot of new “cool” smoker friends) took me to full-on chain-smoker mode.
Although my parents had long since quit (after a near-miss heart attack for my dad, no less), I was undeterred. I loved to talk and I loved how social smoking was, how it was associated with all kinds of fun things like nights out at the bar, and how it had an unpretentious, devil-may-care vibe. I would smoke to calm my nerves, to fit in, to have a reason to stand around outside and chat. The ritual of it became almost too much to overcome. I still find that my desire to smoke intensifies in social situations, even when I can go days or weeks without thinking about it now.
My parents hated my smoking and so does my fiance. I’ve made a million token efforts to quit, but I need to do it for real now. I need to get over the idea that non-smokers are obnoxious (although the theatrical coughing, gagging, and nose-holding, even if perfectly legitimate, may always raise an eyebrow for me) and re-learn to socialize without a burning crutch.
As part of my post-debate camp (I work at a summer debate institute) detox plan, I’m quitting smoking. So far it’s gone all right.
Things in my favor: It’s really hot right now in Texas. I have allergies. It bothers a lot of the people I really care about.
Things not in my favor: Most of my best friends still smoke, and it’s almost IMPOSSIBLE not to smoke while drinking.
That said, I went out last night and didn’t smoke a single cigarette. It was kind of downer in that it made me acutely attuned to just how smoke-y and gross our favorite bar smells and how much I miss the smoke-and-drink double fist, but I did wake up this morning with the ability to talk without coughing. My sinuses felt decent and I feel like I can sort of smell and taste. 19 days to go.