“Everyone’s doing it!”
Exactly what is everyone doing? And why is “it” such a great idea?
Maybe they’re not jumping of a cliff, playing on the interstate, or walking on hot coals. Even so, is it ever a good idea to go along with the crowd?
Are you a people-pleaser?
How much do you care about what others think about you?
Of course, it is important to care about people, but it is easy to become overly preoccupied with their opinions of you. That’s precisely where peer pressure steps in.
Basically, peer pressure is the seemingly overwhelming influence you can feel, when your friends or associates try to intimidate you to convince you to look, talk, and act as they do. It can be a powerful thing!
Often, people influence one another for good reasons. Suppose you study harder for a chemistry test, just because all your friends are cramming too. This may be a good thing!
On the other hand, if your friends try to lead you to skip school, do drugs, steal a smoke, or drive drunk, then you had better beware!
Negative peer pressure can affect a teen in many ways. Once you can recognize it, you can begin to resist its control over you.
Fear of a fashion faux pas
Many people are afraid to be themselves. This is clearly expressed in fashion choices. Stroll the corridors in any high school, and this will be clear to see. You can spot the cliques by matching up the clothing styles. Everyone claims to be an individual, but no one really wants to stick out from the crowd. A quick look reveals the crowd to which each person belongs.
As you get dressed for school, how do you pick out what to wear? Do you call a few friends to find out what they are wearing that day? Do you refuse to wear that yellow shirt, simply because someone in study hall made a wisecrack about it last week?
When you go shopping for new clothes or shoes, do you deliberately seek out the identical brands and styles that the popular kids are already wearing? Do you have your own style? Do you know what your own look is?
If you are going out for the evening with friends, how long does it take you to prepare? When you meet up with your friends, do you feel the need to ask, “Does this look OK?”
How about your appearance? Do you style your hair any way you like, or do you feel the need to look just like your friends? If your friends double-pierce their ears, dye their hair neon colors or get tattoos, do you follow suit automatically? Why?
Fear of Failure
No one wants to fail, although everyone certainly will someday and somehow. Why allow the fear of failure to prevent you from trying something new or challenging? Stepping up and attempting something that stretches you a bit is a wonderful way to grow and discover your hidden talents. You can be as big as you dare to be, if you don’t let the fear of failure cripple you.
Sadly, many teens (and older folks too) are terrified at the possibility of failing in public. Do you think you might become embarrassed or ashamed to have other people discover you are not all-powerful and flawless? Do you really think this will come as a news flash to anyone? Is anyone really perfect?
Fear of Farewell
Nearly everyone has, at one time or another, struggled with the fear of rejection by other people. Loving and being loved are the basest of human needs. Perhaps, we need love and acceptance even more than we need food and water. We may do nearly anything to earn this.
One of the greatest fears people may have is the fear of being rejected by someone close. In teens, this may be a boyfriend of girlfriend. If this is your first romance, the pressure may be intensified. What are you willing to do, to keep the relationship intact? What moral or personal standards are you willing to compromise, just to keep a boyfriend or girlfriend?
Fear of Friendlessness
Do you want to be popular? How important is this to you?
Are you afraid your friends may desert you, if you do not follow the crowd? If you disagree with one of the ringleaders of your circle of friends, what might happen?
Have you ever felt left out or alone, when your friends teased you or planned an event without you? Are you concerned that they might leave you out again?
Facing Fear with Force
Peer pressure is always based on fear. Once you realize that, you can stand boldly against it. What are you afraid of?
Here’s a wonderful question to ask yourself, when you face peer pressure: “If I refuse to go against what I know is right, what is the worst thing that could happen? Could I live with that?”
Often, the worst possible result may be that the peer pressure bullies will mock you and reject you. Is that really so terrible? Are these social predators so wonderful and important to you that their opinion really matters?
What’s the best defense against peer pressure?
Choose your friends wisely! Pick pals who will urge you towards greatness, instead of those who want to drag you into trouble!
If you have a strong assurance that someone truly loves you (family, friends, or others), then you will probably have a lot more power against peer pressure.
If you have a strong sense of your own identity, a firm faith, and a solid group of encouraging friends, you will be able to combat peer pressure effectively. If you know your real friends have got your back, you can stand your ground without fear.