By Lyka Peng, G10
So what’s the deal with peer pressure?
It often comes in many different forms– most of the time, people don’t even recognize themselves being pressured or pressuring others. Peer pressure can be subconsciously done, which can make it hard to be identified. It exists everywhere, and will always be recurring in your everyday life, even while you’re an adult.
And we totally get it! As a teenager, making decisions on your own is already a massive responsibility, and the inclusion of peer pressure just builds on that feeling of stress and discomfort. People give into peer pressure for a variety of reasons, from wanting to be liked to being able to conform to a certain group. We’re not going to judge you for it, because it happens to all of us.
However, peer pressure can have a very negative impact on you as well. This could manifest itself through things like dressing a certain way, buying something because everyone has it, bullying or teasing others because they do it too, etc. Some peer pressure could even lead to more extreme actions like substance abuse, committing crimes, and much more. The point is, you shouldn’t be doing anything that you don’t feel happy or comfortable with by the will of others. If it brings you to do things that you are uncomfortable with and do not agree with, especially for the sake of trying to appeal to others, then it’s not healthy at all. This not only creates strained and toxic friendships, but also puts your own physical and emotional wellbeing on the line.
Avoiding peer pressure is not the easiest thing to do. It is incredibly difficult to be the only one saying ‘no’ in situations where everyone is having fun, doing the same thing. But you should not feel like you need validation from everyone, especially people who don’t align with your own character and personal values. Paying attention to yourself and your needs is crucial in situations where you’re being peer pressured, but you have to understand that you come first above everyone else. Here are some tips and tricks to deal with or to avoid peer pressure:
- Have friends who share similar beliefs and values to yours. This always comes in handy when you’re stuck in an unwanted situation, as both of you could support each other’s decisions. They will back you up when you need them.
- Plan ahead of the situation. Think about what you might want to say, just in case things get out of hand. Try to come up with multiple scenarios, along with multiple ‘solutions’ or excuses to get you out of trouble.
- Talk to the person peer pressuring you. It won’t hurt to talk to them about how you feel. As long as you both respect each other’s values and choices, then it would be fairly easy to come to terms with each other.
- Get a trusted adult to listen and talk to about your problems or the situation you’re in, such as your parent, guardian, teacher, school counselor etc.
But peer pressure is not always a bad thing! Your peers could be positive influences as well, giving you room, allowing you to strive for the better. These are the types of people that you should surround yourself with. After all, we should always be trying our best to improve ourselves.
In case you find yourself in a peer pressuring situation, remember that you’re not alone. Trust your gut. It’s you that matters.