I’ll do my best to make this as painless as possible. No one likes talking about “peer pressure”. Chances are the whole idea was presented to you in high school or middle school, and you thought it was annoying and boring. Allow me to recap everything you slept through in your younger years, because peer pressure can be a dangerous thing!
For those of you who do not know what peer pressure is, it is when a person (or group) influences another person (or group) to change their values. An example could be when someone doesn’t drink, but fellow party goer’s urge that person to drink.
You’re probably looking at me like, “Okay. Don’t make people do what they don’t want to do. This article could end here. Why are there more words?”
I get it. It seems like a normal rule that should not have to be taught to us in school. There are challenges with peer pressure, despite what you may think. It’s not always so easy to tell in the moment.
For You vs. For Them
College is a time of discovery and freedom. You’re going to be away from mom and dad. You’re 18 and don’t need a signature for anything. You are going to go wild. Before you drink that first alcoholic beverage at that party maybe do a quick double check on something. Make sure you do what you are doing for you. It can be hard to distinguish if you are doing something for you or for others. Peer pressure is not always the frat bro begging you to “have fun like everyone else”. Sometimes peer pressure is your own mind alerting you to the fact that everyone else is drinking and you are not. I’m not going to tell you not to try new things, but make sure that you are doing something you actually WANT to do.
Peer pressure can lead to the feeling that you will be judged for not participating in the same thing everyone else is. Here’s the actual truth: no one cares. You drink? That’s nice. You don’t? Cool for you. You do not have to explain yourself to anyone ever. Even though people might be egging you on to do something, in the end they probably don’t care as much as you think they do. If they do they might not be the right crowd for you to hang around with (seeing as they are not being very respectful). It’s college! You get to be in charge of you! If you let other people dictate what you do then you are not really taking advantage of this chance to do anything you want.
Make Sure You Don’t Peer Pressure
Everyone thinks they are not the type of person to pressure others into activities, but sometimes people accidentally peer pressure without knowing it. Gasping and loudly exclaiming “YOU DON’T SMOKE?” can be something that makes someone feel the need to change. Be mindful of the way you react to people. Also, stand up for people who are being peer pressured. Don’t let them do something dumb, and don’t let people treat them that way.
In the end peer pressure is a very simple thing to understand. It can be very difficult to avoid, and sometimes a difficult thing to deal with. The key to fighting peer pressure is to stand firm in your beliefs and be confident. Again, I’m NOT telling you to have fun and do things – just make sure that it’s all your choice!
Feature Image Credit: Gratisography