I consider my self lucky because I tried a lot of things early in life. Good stuff and bad stuff. I started living abroad without my parents from age 10, and somehow I believe it was one of the best parental decisions. That “independence”1 taught me a lot. There were lot of fails, wild teen’s spirit, but some good moments too.
So I started smoking at 13. And quit by 17. In those four years, I reached a point where I had to buy a new pack of cigarettes every morning. I didn’t have a lot of money, so I had to buy the cheapest cigarettes for 2 yuans2.
They had a ginseng flavor. Paradoxically the brand was 生命源, which is “Source of Life” in Chinese. They tasted so bad, so even my friends at university wouldn’t borrow them.
My fingers turned yellow. My front teeth had stains. I was 17 and didn’t give a f*ck about it.
Once we had a party. And we drunk a lot, and smoked a lot of different stuff. My friend Misha went to an internet cafe earlier that day to learn more about different cocktails; then he would go to a store to buy booze, and surprise us with “Tequila Boom”, or “Barmen’s Sperm” (don’t ask).
And we got wasted. The next day, I was almost dead. And believe me, by age 17, I knew pretty well what is hang-over was. That one was the worst ever. I couldn’t eat, drink, or smoke anything for a week. Every time I tried to smoke, I got a gag reflex. I would finish my lunch, and had this urge to smoke, like all smokers do with a full belly. I ask for a cigarette, light it up, and almost puke out my lunch.
I spent many-many hours in internet cafes in the early 00’s, during my university times. And of course, if you are a smoker, when you sit in front of the computer, you feel an urge to have a smoking cigarette between your index and middle finger. And I was there, feeling the urge, shooting a cigarette from my classmate, trying and spitting it out again.
After awhile, I tried cigarettes again, but they just didn’t feel right, but useless and harmful waste of health, time, and money. That’s how I quit.
I wouldn’t recommend this method to anyone. And personally I don’t believe it would work on anyone. But this story is a part of my life now.
Start early. Try things. Fail early. Don’t be stupid.
Make mistakes, just don’t make them permanent.
1. Although I started making my first money around age 13 by doing websites for random clients, my parents supported me financially until I was 17 or so. But now, being a parent myself, I think they could have done it earlier.
2. Equivalent of 0.27 US dollars in 2023.