Peer Pressure

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When we think of peer pressure we often think of the negatives. We are often taught to avoid the people that apply pressure. And sometimes, that is the case. However, as much we want to avoid it, we will not only endure negative peer pressure in our lifetimes, but we may be the ones applying it too – sometimes without even realising. 

In this blog we will be exploring peer pressure and its varied roles and faces.

Peer pressure – where would we be without you?   

Peer pressure has played a part in most of our lives at one time or another. Whether we have been the ones applying it or the ones receiving it. And where would we be without peer pressure?  Our peers pressure us to read that new book that we hadn’t heard of, to binge the new Netflix documentary that just came out or try that new restaurant that does bottomless brunch on Sundays. What about that time you went to head out, and all your friends had a coat on, so you grabbed yours too? And then when you were sitting outside the pub, under the heater and felt that breeze and thought: “I’m glad I brought my coat with me”, who did you have to thank? That’s right, your peers and their subliminal pressure. 

However, like most things in life, peer pressure has its negatives too. As we morph into young adults, negative peer pressure changes from playground dares, like being pressured to eat bird poo (just us?) to much more damaging behaviour, like being pressured to have sex, drink alcohol and do drugs. So, let’s talk about it. 

Let’s start with some examples of what negative peer pressure can look like: 

    • When we’re pressured to drink, smoke or take drugs 

    • When we’re pressured to be nasty to someone 

    • When we’re pressured to do something illegal or dangerous, that could get us into trouble 

    • When we’re pressured to look a certain way, maybe to lose weight or wear more makeup 

    • When we’re pressured to have sex or send explicit photos

Sometimes negative peer pressure isn’t orchestrated simply, it can be a slow burner. We can be worn down until we buckle but we can also wear others down too, sometimes without even realising it. 

For example, for students there is a culture around drinking. Usually, it involves binge drinking. Bar crawls, freshers nights, three jagerbombs for a fiver washed down with a few doubles and before we know it we’re hammered. We’re taught that to get wasted is to have a good time. So, it’s no wonder that some of us want the night to end whilst some of us don’t. We could be pushing someone to stay out because we think it’s fun – but maybe it’s not fun for them. We are all complex, individual beings that react differently to our environments. 

 

So, what can we do about negative peer pressure?

Be kind

Think of all these amazing series coming out, like Sex Education, Derry Girls and 13 Reasons Why. What do they teach us? That it’s cool to be kind. Being a good person, being brave, standing up for ourselves and for others is cool. If we think we might be the friend who is pressuring others to stay out cause we don’t want to go home – let’s take a beat. Let’s listen to what they are saying and respect their space. Maybe we can ask ourselves why we’re not taking no for an answer?

Do you

Some peer pressure is less friendly, it can come from some dark places and lead us down some rough roads. For example, being pressured to have sex with someone, to take drugs or to send pictures of ourselves to keep someone around. But we’ve got to remember – we have worth and value. If someone crosses that line and devalues us in that way – that is not a weight we have to carry, it is not something that we have to do.

We have all this movement going on in the world where we are talking about mental health (finally). Where it is ok not to be ok. Where humans are fighting for the right to walk freely. And if we don’t feel safe on the streets, then we are creating our safe spaces, moulding our movements, breaking the binary and paving the way for a more inclusive future. So, we don’t have to do anything that we don’t want to do.

If we want to get lost in a book one Friday night, let’s do it! If we want to bake a whole camembert and eat it in the bath whilst watching literally anything that stars Zendaya, let’s do it! And if we want to have a drink and let loose, let’s do it! But we should know our limits, ourselves and our worth. Let’s tune into what we want to do. And let’s build some lasting friendships on mutual trust and respect.

 

Is this easier said than done? Most definitely. Peer pressure is timeless and affects us all. However, we each deserve to spend our time doing what we love – whether that is staying out or staying in.

If you’re feeling lost under that pressure, keep talking about it. Maybe to a friend, family or us here at mindhamok. Whether you are applying pressure or enduring it – you aren’t alone.

 

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