21 Oct Peer pressure
One 14 year-old girl we know said this: “I get high several times a week to ﬁt in. I don’t even like it, but I hear the boys think I am cool because of it.”
What is your initial reaction to this quote?
___I can relate. I’d do the same thing
___ I can relate, but I wouldn’t do it
___She’s really dumb
___ (ﬁll in the blank)
If you answered with either of the, “I can relate” choices, many, many teens can relate to you. Peer pressure and the need to “ﬁt in” is high in the teen years. Your focus is outward – it’s on your social world! Therefore, to go against the grain can feel very, very uncomfortable.
We want our friends to like us and to enjoy our company. Naturally, friends enjoy being with other friends who enjoy the same activities – so it can become really uncomfortable (dare we say, super awkward) when you say to them “No, I don’t want to do the same thing as you.” That’s hard enough. You take it up another level when you add, “I really think what you are doing is wrong.”
It likely feels hard to say “No” when you are with a group of people you like who are making choices with which you don’t agree.
Meanwhile, saying “Yes” can make you feel more bound to your friends – especially when you are doing something “you’re not supposed to be doing.” “Rebelling” against something with someone creates an extra level of bonding. So, the distance between saying no and feeling uncomfortable versus saying yes and feeling even more bonded, becomes even bigger.
Then, couple that with seeing lots of people that are doing drugs (and alcohol) and who seem to be having a fun time, and you start leaning towards… have fun and ﬁt in, or don’t ﬁt in and don’t have as much fun. Hmmmm… you can start to see why drugs just may seem appealing to some people.
Peer pressure is real, stressful and complicated to navigate. It is much easier when you are in the driver’s seat, driving your self where you want to go. Your other choice is to let others drive for you. Which do you choose?
You have to feel strongly about who you are and when you want to say, “No.”
You have to have strength, vision, and power. Creating those things for yourself is a process, but you’re beginning that process simply by being on this website;-).
You need… a strong sense of who you are to check in with the short-term self (have fun and ﬁt in) to the long-term self (be true to myself and reach my goals).
Are you curious about the girl quoted at the beginning of this post? Over time, she tried all sorts of drugs and other maladaptive habits as she drifted from one peer group to another, trying to ﬁt in and keep her popular status. But eventually she had to pull back from all of the groups to have a good long look at herself as she realized she was on a road to self-destruction. Now she has stopped doing drugs and she has found a few good friends who appreciate that about her.
Do you feel peer pressure to try drugs (or alcohol… also a drug)?