Have you ever been pushed to doing anything you later realised wasn’t worth or worth the risk? you a lot of things you need to know about peer pressure and will also be sharing my personal experiences with you all.
Peer pressure can also be referred to as social pressure since it deals with the society and the way you see the opinion of the society. Peer pressure is said to be the direct or indirect influence on people by a group of people or people of the same age grade called peers. I say it could be direct or indirect because an individual could be influenced to doing what he doesn’t want to do or better still cajoled. For instance, when you go to a bar with your friends and they ask you to take more shots of tequila than your head can take, you will definitely resist at first but with much cajoling, you finally give in.
Now, peer pressure can also be indirect when an individual decides to act upon what his peers have said or done even when his peers are not there. This can be seen when for instance you get to have a chit chat with your friends and they tell you how they get high when they smoke marijuana and also laugh at you for being so chicky, not being able to do what “real” men do. At the time they said this, you stood your ground but what happens when you get back home? You begin to reflect on all they have said and the thought of getting your own marijuana come to mind. You would wana prove them wrong and so you begin to smoke marijuana just like your friends so they don’t see you as chicky and timid anymore.
Don’t get the idea of the word peer in peer pressure all confusing. The peer pressure could come from a group of people or an individual. Even though the word “peer” refers to people of the same age grade, you will agree with me that the influencing individuals or group doesn’t always have to be people of the same group with you but simply people you find yourself around, people you call your friends, people you call your friends, your best friend and all that.
Make no mistakes about this, peer pressure can come in any form. As the name implies, it is also called social pressure and so it could also come from the social media. In fact, these days, the social media has been the biggest form of peer pressure influence we have been having. This is a period of technological advancement and so we have all gone digital. We have things like cyber bullying, where people get bullied into becoming who they are not or doing things they don’t want to do just to appeal to the crowd. Kids and youths also see a lot of things on the social media, develop inferiority complex and decide to want to be like others and so find themselves doing things they would naturally not do or try to alter their personality just to appease the crowd.
At this point, it is pertinent to note that kids and adolescents fall prey to peer pressure the most because of their inability to make sound decisions. Adults also fall prey to this hydra headed monster but theirs isn’t as pronounced as that of kids and adolescents.
Now, let’s drive this home a bit. I would start with the children and how they behave to depict peer pressure influence.
Have you noticed how kids tend to imitate anything they see people do? They tend to imitate their friends at school, at home and anywhere they find themselves. They also go as far as imitating adults especially their parents and any adult they see regularly around them. Some weeks back, I went into the kitchen and stumbled upon my little niece who isn’t even up to a year old, trying to pound using the pestle and mortar and I wondered where she learnt how to do that. These kids watch our every move and this is because they are seeking self-discovery. They are trying to discover who they really are by comparing their capabilities with that of others and so they are very prone to peer pressure as the gradually advance in age.
Deviating a bit from kids. When I got into junior high, we offered the same subjects with every other student. More like general courses and we didn’t have to choose the courses we did at the time. But in senior high, we were expected to choose our individual courses. We were split into Science, Social Science, and Art classes***. At this point, many students were confused including me. We were turn between staying with our friends behind and going to a different class. So at this point, many took the easier option of simply asking their friends which class they wanted to stay in. we lacked vision and didn’t know what we wanted. We wanted to go with the flow, we wanted to stay where our friends and do what they did at our own detriment. Well luckily for most of us, the school authority would only let you stay a term in the class you chose and watch your performance closely, after which they would take you to a class befitting to you based on your performance. If the school authority hadn’t done it this way, many of us would have been lost. Due to peer pressure.
In our university and college days, many of us had those friends we hang around with who smoked, clubbed, womanized and did all they could to make us do same thing. Many of us can attest to the fact that once in a while we almost got influenced by all those while many of us can confess to the fact that we fell to the trap.
Peer pressure is a social evil that cannot be prevented. It cannot be stopped and so how do we go about surviving in a society laden with peer pressure. Well, we can do this by;
Having the awareness that you are unique: Awareness of your uniqueness gives you a sense of high self-esteem. It makes you feel like you are supposed to be calling the shots and not doing the biddings of some group of people or some friends.
Stop hanging around friends that will influence you negatively: Someone might be forced to ask “How will I know those friends that will influence me negatively?”. Well, the truth is that you will always know. You know those things which are bad and socially unacceptable. When you make a new friend and notice he does these things, it is only wise for you to cut the relationship short before the relationship cuts your life short. Like they always say, “Evil communication corrupts good manners”.
Learn to always stand your ground no matter what: Don’t always fall for the jokes your friends make about you. You have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone. Don’t let their opinions about you get to you. I remember a day in high school when my friends said I wouldn’t be able to break an egg with my palm holding the top and bottom parts of the egg tightly. I got pissed when they said that and wanted to prove to them that I was strong enough to do it. I did it and the egg broke and splattered on my school uniform. I couldn’t change my school uniform and so I had to wear it like that for the rest of the day. I smelled badly and the same friends who cajoled me into breaking the egg were the same friends who laughed at my smelly school uniform and from that day I learnt my lesson.
Always stay focused: Learn to be contented with what you have. Do not have a covetous eye. People who are not always contented with what they have are people who are easily pushed into doing things they don’t want to do just to get that which their hearts long for. We see this mostly in ladies. Some ladies join prostitution simply because they want to be like their friend who gets all her goodies from the men she sleeps with.
The power not to fall to peer pressure lies within us. We need to look inward and bring out that resistance in us and if many of us can achieve this, the world will be a better place. A place filed with people who know what they want and go right straight at it without being pushed by people into doing what they do not want to do.