The right friends can make a world of difference
Try a cigarette, man.”“But … isn’t it bad for you?”
“Come on, all the cool kids are doing it!”
“Maybe I’ll just try one …”
We all give in to peer pressure at times, because we want to fit in or be liked. It’s hard being a teenager with no friends, and so we often leave our better judgment behind when a sticky situation arises.
Many adults think teens encounter peer pressure all the time, and this may be true, but it’s not always under negative circumstances.When we were small, our parents chose our friends for us. They knew who the “best” friends for us would be. But as we grew older, we started making our own friends, and sometimes, I’ll admit, I’ve not been as wise as my parents.
As we start spending more time with friends and less time with our parents, friends start to gain a greater influence over our decisions. This is when peer pressure becomes serious. We spend so much time with our peers – we trust them, we listen to them, we take advice from them – that it’s hard to see when it might be affecting us negatively. We may be put in a situation to smoke, drink or steal, and though we know we shouldn’t do these things, it’s hard to fight the urge to want to be accepted.
Everybody tells us that the way to challenge negative peer pressure is by learning how to say no. Sure, saying no sounds easy enough, but the rejection that follows is hard and can lead to low self-esteem and feeling lonely and depressed. It might even cause some kids to drop out of school.
Essentially, it’s all about making the right friends, right? Don’t get sucked into the “cool” group; don’t be afraid to stick with the nerds, goody-goodies, and the other cliques. Anyway, the “cool” group may look like the cool ones now, but 30 years later there’s a good chance they might be alcoholics and breathing out of a hole in their necks.
But sometimes your friends choose you, and though they might not be the ideal friends, they are the ones who surround you – and teenagers can’t afford to be rejected by the only people that accept them. Maybe the easiest solution would be to leave the country and start all over again (as many of us expat brats do quite often), but that’s usually a decision out of our control.
Fortunately, I’m surrounded by mostly positive peer pressure in my daily life. My friends are hard-working brainiacs, and though it can be hard to be surrounded by high achievers all the time, having friends who are hard-working and have other positive qualities about them reinforce those qualities in me. Likewise, having friends who don’t work hard and fail every test might encourage us to do the same. It’s all about the choices and knowing which decisions are the right ones to make.