Myles Dawson speaks to Marysville High School freshmen Friday about his experiences with peer pressure growing up. He also provided some ways for students to accept themselves.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Will Channell)
Peer pressure has a way of snowballing.
Myles Dawson’s troubles came when, as a freshman in high school, his friends goaded him into giving a girl flowers. According to his recollection, he traipsed through the hallways of Marysville High School, gave the girl roses and bolted in embarrassment.
“I was kind of nervous,” he joked. “I might have passed out afterwards.”
The scene he described to a group of Marysville freshmen Friday was innocent on its own, but served to illustrate the beginning of a journey that ended with him passed out at a stop sign with a bag of heroin in his car.
Dawson, 29, has spent much of his life battling heroin addiction. He spoke to a group of Marysville freshmen Friday morning about how his addiction came out of peer pressure. Now the manager of Dawson’s Pizza and a regular on the public speaking circuit, he also told students how to pull themselves out of whatever they might be facing.
The pressure Dawson experienced from his friends gradually increased throughout high school. Next was theft from a vending machine, then drinking at an after-prom party his junior year.
“That was probably how just about every weekend would go,” he said. “I would drink, act stupid or do whatever.”
He said he continued because “nothing bad happened.” He said the lack of severe consequences made it easy to give into the whims of his friends.
Dawson noted, however, there were things his friends didn’t tell him. No one was there to tell him it would get out of hand, and he’d eventually begin taking pills.
“And what they didn’t tell me when I took some pills is that I’d probably get pulled over within a year of graduating high school with a half ounce of heroin and a half ounce of crack in the car and spend time in jail,” he said.
Peer pressure pushed him away from sports, hurt his grades and ended up with an opioid addiction.
“All of those dreams I had of going to college somewhere didn’t exist anymore,” he said.
Though Dawson has come out the other end better.
He encouraged students to accept who they are, and to not worry about what other people think. Whether it’s Lebron James, Rory McIlroy or Oprah Winfrey, he said most successful people are successful because they put the work in.
“They were willing to put in the work and not become a product of their environment,” he said.
Dawson said people should decide what they’re passionate about and to pursue. Whether it’s medicine, music or fashion, students can help straighten their paths if they focus on what makes them happy.
He said everyone gets sidelined from time to time. Whether it’s a bout of depression or a break-up, people get rough patches. His happened to be a stint in prison.
“Myles, shut up,” he recalled his father telling him during a prison visit.
His father continued, “You’ve been on the starting team for a long time… They put you on the bench because you’ve been missing your shots. The coach no longer wants you in the game.”
His father told him to use his time in prison to get better, and one day, he’d be back on the proverbial “team.”
“I wasn’t willing to accept who I was yet,” he said. “When I accepted that not everybody was going to like me, my life changed.”
...For the full story, select an option below.