Considering how expensive, disgusting, and unhealthy cigarettes are, they’re also ridiculously difficult to quit—and if you’ve ever tried to quit smoking before, you know exactly how much of an understatement that is.
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Despite the fact that the cons of smoking (a potpourri of cancers, masses of premature wrinkles, emphysema, diminished bone health, reduced fertility for both men and women, a host of other issues big and small) are immeasurable compared to the pros (you think you look cool; it gives you an excuse to flirt with people outside of bars), quitting cigarettes is an absolute struggle.
But when you do quit smoking—despite the unequivocal fact that nicotine withdrawal is hell—the results are well worth it. So if you’re trying to start the New Year off as a non-smoker, I salute you.
1. Many years ago, you made the supremely smart decision to start smoking.
Nobody starts smoking tobacco just because it tastes good. We all want to look as cool as James Dean leaning against a wall, or Sandy rocking that black leather jacket in Grease.
2. But you know that smoking is gross and needs to be canceled.
Even if addiction can make a cigarette taste like an amazing dose of relaxation, spending that much money to feel bad, smell awful, and make yourself ill just doesn’t make any sense.
3. The first few days of nicotine withdrawal are… difficult.
You might want to carry around a set of pre-made apology notes everywhere you go, because if my past behavior is any indication, you’re going to need them.
4. Of course, you knew that quitting smoking would probably make you irritable.
You have to have a plan in place. If it involves listening to your favorite, soothing music and doing lots of meditation, so much the better.
5. But you most definitely weren’t prepared for exactly how irritable you’d get.
At a certain point, you just want to see the world burn. Is that so hard for people to understand?
6. Then there’s the constant headaches to contend with.
Pulsating, piercing headaches. Headaches that laugh in the face of painkillers.
7. Not to mention the relentless hunger.
How many sandwiches should one person realistically be able to eat in one day? Asking for myself.
8. At night, you don’t even get to chill because you’re kept awake by trippy nightmares.
Being awake is no fun, and being asleep is an actual nightmare. Nowhere is safe.
9. Then, you wake up one morning to an outbreak of blemishes.
Who knew that self-improvement could both look and feel quite so crappy? I thought that giving up smoking was supposed to be good for your skin.
10. All of which makes the temptation to smoke again all the more real.
You have crazy cigarette cravings right now. You also know that smoking could stop the irritability, headaches, hunger, nightmares, and bad skin that have come with them. At this stage, a cigarette is both the answer to and the cause of all of your problems. In quitting smoking, your life has become more about cigarettes than ever. Great.
11. But once you’re suffering this much, you’ve gone almost a week without smoking.
Which means that it’s time to feel proud and soldier through, babe.
12. Some of your biggest challenges go down around alcohol.
What is it about a fantastic glass of wine that compels the body to demand a cigarette?
13. In the coming weeks, you’ll likely also slip up at least once and find yourself enjoying at least one drag.
And use some very flimsy logic to do so.
14. In fact, years from now, you might find yourself smoking the odd cigarette.
When stress calls (or you’ve had one too many), cigarettes often seem like a good idea. And no, they never actually are.
15. But at some point, you’ll also realize how nasty and unsatisfying they are.
Gross and totally not worth it. What was all the fuss about? And why did I ever enjoy these things?
16. Until one day, you’ll notice that you haven’t even thought about cigarettes in forever.
17. And that you can officially wear this new term as a badge of honor.
Suits you, buddy. Announce it with pride.
You suffer those withdrawal symptoms for an agonizing few months, and you’ll make it through. Time to become one of those smug ex-smokers you used to detest back in your smoking days!
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, blogger, and musician based in Liverpool, UK. She’s the co-founder of the irreverent pop culture blog and podcast Clarissa Explains F*ck All and the bassist for d-beat punk band Aüralskit. She’s currently working on her first novel and slowly completing her debut poetry collection. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.