Let’s talk peer pressure: how to cope at any age
Let’s talk peer pressure: You may not realise it, but every day you are influenced by those around you. Your choices, opinions and even your favourite things are swayed by the people you spend time with.
Perhaps a friend suggested you wear purple one day and now you wear it all the time! Most of the time this is harmless, and it’s how you develop your tastes as grow. You are the person you are today based on many variables and one of these are your peers: your parents/guardians, siblings, elders and those you share a classroom with. However, peer pressure becomes dangerous when you feel like you can’t escape from a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or that you’d otherwise disagree with.
The first lesson is that it’s okay to say no, to keep your integrity and to avoid skewing your moral compass. Here are some tips on how to cope with peer pressure at any age:
Trust your instincts
Knowing who you are and what you feel is right is easier said than done, but it’s so important. It can take a long time to know yourself, but if you concentrate on this, it’s more than possible.
Trust your instincts and you’ll develop an acute awareness of what is right and wrong in your eyes. What are the behaviours you wish to uphold at all costs? This can differ from person to person. For example, one individual may value honesty higher than manners, but another may well value manners more.
Be true to yourself and beliefs. Don’t compromise your morals for anyone, even if you’re met with annoyance. Your happiness at doing the right thing will overshadow the fleeting feelings of trying to please.
Learn how to say no
It is not uncommon to struggle with your transition into adulthood, but one of the most freeing things about this turbulent time is the realisation that you can say no!
This is much harder to do when you are younger and more impressionable. Moreover, as a youngun, you are taught and encouraged to obey. It’s as you grow that you realise how liberating the word “no” really is. You made a choice, a decision, and you took a step toward self-ownership. It feels amazing.
Saying no to things that would otherwise damage your self-esteem will have few repercussions! If anything, it’s rewarding! So, say no and enjoy it!
Question your friendships
Would true friends punish you for refusing something that makes you feel uneasy? The answer is plain and simple: no. Ask yourself why you can’t say no to these people. Do they scare you? Why are you so eager to please them? Why should you have to prove you’re worthy of their friendship? If these questions orbit around your friendships then they probably aren’t healthy ones.
Loyalty is important, but people should love you for you. You shouldn’t have to prove yourself by getting involved in damaging situations! Proof should show through your great personality, your kindness and support for one another. You should enjoy your friend’s company, and if you don’t, then maybe its time you started looking for new friends.
The questions should extend to yourself, too. Is feeling guilty and bad about yourself beneficial in any way? Again, the answer is plain and simple: no. So why torture yourself? Value your own person enough to treat yourself well.
Speak to someone you trust or consult the wellbeing team at your college. They’ll help you begin to prioritise your welfare. When you feel good about yourself, you’ll start to make the right choices, and even treat people better. Happiness is contagious, make yours a priority.
It’s a part of life
Furthermore, know that peer pressure doesn’t just go away. Once you accept this, you’re much more equipped to deal with it. As you get older peer pressure shifts into more adult themes, such as when the right time to lose your virginity is. The answer: when you’re ready, not when you feel like you should.
Playground bullying transforms into office cliques and exclusion is as prevalent in the workplace as it is in school. Be prepared. Stick to your guns. The truth about life is that it doesn’t dramatically change as you age. If anything, it gets harder. Not only are you dealing with the same issues you did as a teen, but now you have to pay those pesky taxes.
Understanding and preparing yourself for these pressures early means that the burden will be lesser and you’ll have the confidence to deal with it!
Your wellbeing is important, make it matter!