I’ll follow the boys

Being “in” without giving in to peer pressure
By Debbie Vergara

Making decisions on your own is hard enough, but when other people get involved and try to pressure you one way or another it can be even harder.

Peer Pressure is when you do things because everybody else does it — and you’re afraid you’ll look clueless or totally out of it if you don’t. It means that we feel pressure (either from inside or outside ourselves) to be like other people.

Peer pressure isn’t a bad thing. It plays a big role in shaping who we are and how we dress and talk and act. It’s the main reason that kids dress and talk and act more or less alike, but peer pressure can become a bad thing when we choose to do the wrong thing. Like doing drugs, having sex, cutting school, fighting and drinking….etc

When a group of kids or even some adults are acting as one and no one seems to be thinking about consequences or outcomes it’s not cool! If it makes you feel bad it IS bad for you!

What would you do if one or a few of your friends asked you cut class and smoke a joint with them? Do you do what you know is right or do you smoke with them? As you grow older you’ll be faced with some tough decisions…the one above is an example. Making decisions on your own is hard enough, but when other people get involved and try to pressure you one way or another it can be even harder. How would you handle peer pressure?

It can be hard for us to walk away from peer pressure, but it can be done. Paying attention to your own feelings, your inner strength and self confidence can help you stand firm to what you believe is right or wrong. If you stand your ground, and do what “you” know is right, you’ll never regret it. It takes a person of great character to work peer pressure the right way!

That’s why parents always tell you to pick your friends wisely; they know how peer pressure can be.

Your peers influence your life, whether you know about it or not, just by spending time with you. You learn from them, and they learn from you. After all, it is human nature to learn from others. Sometimes peers have a positive effect on us, like helping us to learn a technique in math that you didn’t quite understand and sometimes they can have a negative effect on us. It is OK to “follow the crowd” from time to time. In fact it is important that you do! How would you learn right from wrong then? What you need to do is be aware of when following the crowd is doing more harm – either to you or others, than it is doing good.

If you feel that you can’t stand up for your beliefs or are losing the knack to know right from wrong on anything but the opinions of others in your group, you might have a problem. You must NEVER let following the crowd take priority over following your conscience.

If you face peer pressure and it becomes tough for you to handle talk to someone, your parents, teachers, guidance counselor, aunts, uncles, etc.; talking to a parent, teacher or even your guidance counselor can help you feel much better, can help you deal with it much better. Know who you are and be true to your inner self and you will be fine!