We know that peer pressure is the direct influence on people by their peers, or the effect on an individual who is encouraged to follow their peers by changing their behaviours, attitudes and values, to conform to either one particular individual, or in a group.
I’m not sure how old I was when a friend coaxed me into going home with her after school because she’d said my mum had already agreed with hers that I could, and I believed her. By the time mum had got to school, I had already left. Of course my problems didn’t end there.
But when it comes to peer pressure and moral standing and where the status quo changes by our decision, it’s a big ask. It’s fine where peer pressure doesn’t have right or wrong answers like being asked to play football or netball. Those questions will never change the status quo; it’s down to preference.
But there are life changing exceptions. For example, if friends are smoking weed or drinking alcohol and you’re asked to join in, the ask doesn’t become that simple any more. We all want to fit in and that’s where peer pressure comes in, but even when we’re faced with challenging decisions, the biggest challenge is saying ‘no.’
For some, peer pressure is about wanting to fit in, to be liked; for others it’s simply because they worry they might be made fun of, but starting something that could comprise our health or life, has to be the worst case scenario.
We must take into consideration our own wants and needs. It’s easy to get caught up in other people’s lives and forget to engage in our own. But we must seriously weigh everything up before making our decision.
Although I needed convincing, I gave in because my friend’s story sounded plausible, I trusted her. I also wasn’t brought up to mistrust people, so what I’d been told, stuck.
Of course, I was too young at the time to understand what the consequences would be when I got home.