Growing up is probably one of the most rewarding yet equally devastating experiences ever.
Not only are we left stuck in an abyss of uncomfortable choices, without the safety net of our childhood and ignorance to shield us, but we’re also subjected to social unpleasantries and overbearing influences of, wait for it, peer pressure!
Now, before we jump into some of the ways you could weather domineering and forced conformity, while still making the most out of your youth, we’d like to point out the two types of peer pressure and how to differentiate between them.
Yes, peer pressure can be positive too, believe it or not! It’s natural to adopt a common style or a habit that appeals to us when we’re so easily influenced by our surroundings.
But what makes peer pressure, well, positive, is seen in the results. It should instigate growth and positive development as well as evolve into a form of encouragement and support.
Sure, you’ll end up trying things out of your comfort zone, but you could end up unearthing some sense of joy or passion or even a new talent along the way!
It’s Clubs & Societies Day and your shy, introverted self refuses to budge. You nudge shoulders with some of your orientation friends and they gesture their hands towards the Volleyball Club or, perhaps, the Student Council.
It’s a little out of your comfort zone. You’ve never joined an athletic club nor been involved in a student organisation before.
"Can I really do this?" You think to yourself. You feel yourself shrinking away from the idea. But before you can even stop to contemplate the different excuses to say ‘no’, your friends drag you over with a smile of reassurance, a sign of their loyal companionship alongside yourself. "Okay", you tell yourself, "I'll trust them just this once", as you type your name onto the member's sheet.
Flash forward 4 months later, and you’re laughing in hysterics, having the time of your life with your club mates, ridiculing the idea of ever doubting your choice to sign up.
It’s absurd to even think about it. Of course, it was the right decision!
Raining on your parade with some of the not-so-good parts of peer pressure which is probably the type we're most aware of.
What makes this type of social pressure seem bad is the negative circumstances or toxic results it produces. You may not be doing it for the right reasons, be it adopting slurs to even procuring or involving yourself in illegal activities. You’re doing it to fit in, to be more well-liked or praised. To feel validated.
The only way you think you’ll receive that is by getting the approval of those ‘peers’ whom you admire or feel intimidated by. Now the typical dilemma of every college student is, “If I say no, they won’t want to hang out with me anymore” or “If I bail, they'll think I’m ‘boring’ and don’t have a life.”
It’s only human nature to want to be well-received by others, least of all, your ‘friends’. There is a part of you that wants to maybe try out something new and scary! It’s the wild thrill that comes with a new experience.
But, are they really your friends if they don’t respect your hesitation and non-compliance, instead forcing you into something without your voluntary consent? Especially if it means partaking in something unethical or illegal, which may likely manifest into an addiction over time (We’re not going to spell it out for you, because you know EXACTLY what we’re referring to).
If a part of you somewhere, however minuscule and tiny, tells you that what’re you’re doing is wrong. Morally unjust. Simply not something you’d really want to do, that’s when you got to play your "Sorry, it’s a NO" card.
Want to play the 'No' card but simply don't know how? Build your courage and learn how to tell them when 'No' means 'No'.
Karen Grace Prince is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communication (Honours). She is also the Director of Events Committee for the Taylor's Model United Nations Club (TLMUN) and Director of Ext. Operations for TLMUN 2020 Conference Secretariat Team.