People Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato participates in the BUILD Speaker Series to discuss “Smurfs: The Lost Village” in New York, March 20, 2017. Lovato was hospitalized for a drug overdose on July 24. She’s been open with her struggles of staying sober.

As a teenager, I can attest to the fact that I have no idea who I am. I look to the people around me, the things that I am exposed to, to see who I should be. I have my role models. Do you have yours? Are you aware of who you allow to influence you and your behaviors?

Celebrities play a crucial role in today’s society. However, actors and the characters they portray are not the best people for us to imitate. They have everything we think that we want and that drives us to crave their lifestyles, their money and their relationships. When in reality, they give us the perfect examples of the lives we don’t want to lead.

Many celebrities struggle within their marriages and relationships. They have no loyalty to the person they pledge their love to. Most marriages end in divorce and battles for money and custody of the children. According to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50 percent of marriages within the United States end in divorce. Not only is this harmful to the people involved, but it also gives marriage a bad reputation. It entices us to believe that marriage does not really stand for much anymore and that cheating is okay.

Some of our favorite stars also wrestle with alcohol and substance abuse. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that, as of 2015, 10.1 percent of people 12 and older used an illicit drug in the month prior to their survey. Additionally, 86.4 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime in accordance with the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Drugs already wreak havoc on our lives; witnessing people who we are constantly aware of overdosing and getting charged with possession is detrimental to our thought process. It normalizes drug use and, when they receive no punishment for using/possessing drugs, it leads us to think that we, too, will not face any consequences.

Celebrities are often granted some form of amnesty for their crimes. They seldom face more than a few years of probation and community service, they never complete their assigned jail time due to “overcrowding” in the prisons, and in some cases, the charges are dropped. Because of this lenient treatment of famous rule-breakers, we expect the same leeway for the laws we do not abide by. This, however, can cause us a lot more trouble.

Lastly, our stars show us, by example, that suicide is, in addition to acceptable, common. When a celebrity commits suicide, they initiate the “Werther Effect.” In short, the Werther Effect is a series of suicides that follow a widely publicized suicide. It is more commonly known as copycat suicide. Celebrity suicides act as a trigger for suicidal ideation, driving many people to kill themselves as well. The Journal of American Medicine conducted a study based on the hit TV show “13 Reasons Why.” Their study showed that after the series premier, suicide related internet searches increased by 19 percent.

Personally, I look to my parents to determine who I should be. I know that I want to make them proud of the daughter they have raised and it fuels my personality and behavior. I admire their marriage. I learn from watching them overcome every conflict they encounter. It has been a beautiful example for me.

Furthermore, I love the drug-, alcohol- and crime-free environment that they have exposed me to. My life has its difficulties, but my parents have taught me that drugs and alcohol only help you to forget your worries for a limited time; they do not solve any of your problems.

In the end, I know that my parents, my friends, my church and my community love me. They give me the courage to overcome my problems and to realize that giving up is never an option.

My tip to you is to find the person that inspires you to learn from your mistakes and live up to your own expectations. I encourage you to find someone you can influence and let them be your reason to set a beautiful example. Do not let fame and fortune show you who you think you need to be. Be you.