The term ‘peer pressure’ is like a tree in its entirety but if you take a step back, you see that the branches make it the exquisite masterpiece it is. Needless to say, peer pressure can’t be described or explained as one mere thing. We may be pressured by dares, to participate in risky behaviors, or allow ourselves to be taken advantage of because we want to be liked, we feel alone, or lack confidence in ourselves. We may be experiencing bullying, or stress and anxiety about college or school in general. All these things and more can contribute to why we fall into the traps of peer pressure.
If I could write about all the times I fell into the pits of peer pressure because I wanted to be liked or felt as if I wasn’t “good enough” you’d be reading all day. I’ll admit, I am a people pleaser. And although I sometimes still struggle in this area, at some point in my life I had to understand that people pleasing and succumbing to peer pressure comes with a cost. Whether it be losing my identity, going against my morals and beliefs, or losing sight of my purpose. Eventually I had to ask myself if I was willing to pay that cost.
Response to an Act of Peer Pressure: The Blame Game
The saying “they made me do it!” is questionable, especially if we try to put the blame on someone else for our actions. Yes we may be pressured to do something, but at the end of the day we all have a choice, and we are responsible for any choices we make.
A Possible Result of Peer Pressure: Toxic Friendships
When working on ourselves, we have to get rid of those toxic friendships. Staying in a toxic friendship is preventing you from being the best version of yourself. For me, toxic friendships kept me in a place where I was being controlled, and that didn’t feel right to me. Being liked by others isn’t something worth losing yourself or your dignity over.
I know “peer pressure” can be a bit of a cliched phrase but let’s face it: it’s very real. And it can leave lasting if not damaging affects not just on one’s physical wellbeing but their emotional and mental health as well.
To end on a positive note, someone once told me “when you own the story, you can write a courageous new ending.” So, if you’re like me who has given in to peer pressure no matter what it may have been, own it. Own it and rewrite your narrative. The process of wanting to do better and be better may be difficult, especially when you have to sever ties with friends or family while resisting to yield to the pressure. But today, you have the ability to grab the pen and design a new story of hope, resilience, and bravery.