Navigating peer pressure

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.

7 Dec, 2018

6 thoughts on “Navigating peer pressure

  1. Yes, I gave in to that myself, the summer that I was 11 turning 12 (my birthday is August 5th) and tried smoking weed and drinking, since my siblings were doing it too.

    I already had a pretty good idea of what the results would be, since I had an alcoholic father and a mother who enjoyed the prescription plan.

    In the end I gave up on most of my dreams, because I chose to continue partying, which was truly such a shame since I could have easily become a doctor or a rocket scientist, considering how smart I was.

    I didn’t really bother trying seeing as the two people who I wanted to be proud of me, couldn’t even be bothered to give a damn. Now at 50 years old, I have to figure out what I want to do with my life, and only have so much time left to do what I can do.

    This is why I’m hoping and praying that one of my nephew’s will actually want my help in finding AA meetings in my area, seeing as his life has fallen apart.

    The reality is that he has to be the one to reach out for help, seeing as I can’t do it for him as much as I want to. I haven’t talked to him yet, but I would imagine that he was a victim of peer pressure too, which I can relate to.

    It has also been such a struggle for me in my adult life, seeing as I have tried to fit into so many different groups of people, only to find out that I didn’t fit into any of them, no matter how hard I tried.

    I was raised to be a social chameleon, which meant I could easily fake my way into a group, but still always felt like the odd man out.

    I’ve decided finally that I’m getting too old for this and will just do my own thing, seeing as that is what works for me.

  2. I can resonate with you again Randy. Yes, I was speaking to a friend of mine, whose son had been pressured by his peers into smoking weed.

    I think with the help of his mum, he managed not to bow to pressure and walked away, but then spent weeks sitting it out at home, when his contemporaries we’re doing their thing.

    I find it sad that this is our world. I can resonate in feeling the odd one out. I was expected to conform to my parents’ wishes, but even without the potential of giving weed a go, my face simply didn’t fit.

    Having a disability and other mental issues certainly didn’t help. But I have learned a lot since those days, we don’t have to fit into others’ lives, we must fit into our own.

  3. I was pretty satisfied in my own skin as a child, because my father’s every word was encouraging. He showed me my place in the scheme of things, so I never really cared who approved of me. My eyes were always suspicious.

    Who needs to follow anyone anywhere if you had a man like him for a dad.

    1. Thanks Tim. I love reading your memories and your recollection of how your father was with you.

      Encouraging words will always find its way into our psyche, etched in our souls. Although I didn’t get that I am happy you did.

  4. I like your response a lot, Tim. That was nice to read. For me, my dad’s influence was lacking as I suspect was his from his father, but he didn’t change that, nor other things he could have, unfortunately.

    I suspect that we’re all subject to peer pressure and I’m sure we’ve all succumbed to it as some point, particularly as children.

    I don’t see the harm in that, it’s all part of growing up, experiencing relationships and learning. The problem is when we don’t learn but repeat the pattern instead.

    1. Where you say, ‘the problem is when we don’t learn but repeat the pattern instead.’ You’re right.

      Perhaps if we thought about trying to fit into our own lives, more than trying to fit into society, we’d have more luck at avoiding things like peer pressure.

      School is good in many respects, but it fails to accommodate or understand how best to accommodate children in terms of their emotional and spiritual development and peer pressure is part of that.

      I am living proof. I’ve had to learn all by myself.

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