Chapter One: The 6 Big Ones The Choice Is Yours Call me Sean. I'm the author and I'm glad you're here. Don't worry. This won't be another boring book. This one's different. It's written just for teens and deals with your life, your problems, your stuff. It also has a lot of great cartoons (I had to hire several artists and pay them a fortune because I can't draw worth squat.) This book is about one idea. I'll get straight to the point. There are six key decisions you make during your teen years that can make or break your future. So, choose wisely, and don't blow it. If you do happen to blow it, however, it's not the end of the world. Just get back on track quickly and start making smarter choices. Being a teen today is tougher than ever. While your grandparents may have had to walk uphill to school in the snow, you have a different set of challenges to navigate: like media overload, party drugs, Internet porn, date rape, terrorism, global competition, depression, and heavy peer pressure. It's a totally different world! Although I still shoot spit wads, I'm no longer a teen, but I vividly remember the ups and downs I went through. Most of my problems began at birth. My dad said, "Sean, when you were born your cheeks were so fat the doctor didn't know which end to spank." He wasn't kidding. You should see my baby pictures. My cheeks hung off my face like water balloons. You can imagine how often I was teased. Once I was with all the neighborhood kids jumping on our trampoline. We were playing a game of add-on and it was my turn. Susan, my neighbor, couldn't resist saying what everyone was thinking, "Man, look at Sean's bouncing cheeks. They're so fat." David, my younger brother, in an effort to defend me said, "They're not fat. They're muscle." His valiant effort backfired, and everyone got a kick out of my new nickname, "Muscle Cheeks." My problems continued into junior high school. I hated seventh grade and have chosen to forget most of it. I do remember that I still had fat cheeks and an eighth grader named Scott kept trying to pick a fight with me. I don't know why he picked on me. I'd never met the guy. Maybe it was because he was confident he could pound me. He'd wait in the hallway with a couple of his friends and challenge me to a fight every day after my algebra class. I was petrified and tried to stay away from him. One day he cornered me. "Hey, Covey. You big fat sissy. Why don't you fight me?" "I dunno." He then slugged me in the stomach real hard, knocking my breath out. I was too scared to fight back. He left me alone after that. But I was humiliated and felt like a loser. (By the way, I'm bigger than Scott now and I'm still looking for him. Kidding!) As I began high school, to my pleasant surprise, my face grew into my cheeks, but a new set of problems arose. Suddenly I had to make a lot of important decisions that I wasn't ready for. During the first week, I was invited to join a club with seniors who drank a lot. I didn't want to join but I also didn't want to offend them. I started to make new friends. Then, there were all these new girls. One even started liking me. She was pretty and aggressive and it was exciting and scary all at once. I had so many questions. Should I like this girl? Who should I hang out with? What classes should I take? Should I go to that party? How can I juggle school, sports, and friends? I didn't realize it at the time, but these were some of the most important decisions I'd ever make in my life. The idea for this book started when I sent out surveys to hundreds of teens from all over and asked, "What are your biggest challenges?" Here's what a few of them said: "Stress. Trying to fit everything in is my number one challenge because I have a lot on my plate." "Dealing with sexuality. I have to be able toCovey, Stephen R. is the author of '6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make A Guide for Teens', published 2006 under ISBN 9780743265041 and ISBN 0743265041.