Article written by Chloe Nicosia
It can be difficult to fit in, especially in high school. There are so many things that are changing around you: your body, the people you hang out with, the classes you take, your personal likes and dislikes. While your body is going through all of these changes and your peers are discovering who they are as growing teenagers, they might not be the most positive or uplifting influences. Some might begin pressuring you into something you don’t want to do, like drinking or trying drugs. They may also pressure you into gossiping or making fun of another peer.
Regardless of why or what you are being peer pressured to do or think, it is time that students took a stand to recognize when it happens, and the actions they can take to prevent it. Peer pressure can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time. By being aware of the many types of peer pressure out there, as well of the ways that you can protect yourself, you can help yourself grow into the person you were always meant to be.
It is totally natural to want to belong, to fit in. When we see our friends taking part in things we know are wrong, we sometimes still feel the urge to participate. This pressure can be worsened by our peers in many different ways. For instance, your friends may exile you from the group for not participating. They could make fun of you, or start to spread rumors about you throughout the school that are not true. Regardless of the magnitude, these actions hurt your feelings, and can cause you to act out irrationally.
Dealing with peer pressure is a fact of life. The truth is you are not always going to get along with the your peers; that’s ok. Whether it is in elementary school or at your first summer job over a high school summer, there are always going to be instances where you feel the negative side effects of peer pressure, be they big or small. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid these problems.
For starters, avoid putting yourself into situations you know are going to turn sour. In high school, many of your classmates may start to experiment with drugs or alcohol. If you know those elements are going to be present at a party or event, don’t attend. Make other plans to keep your mind off of what others might be doing. In addition, consider who your true friends really are. A real friend would never put you into a situation that makes you uncomfortable or unhappy. If your friends begin to make questionable decisions, it might be time to reevaluate your friendship. Always stay true to yourself, and never act on something that makes you uncomfortable.
The biggest thing you can learn to do in an effort to avoid peer pressure is to learn how to say “no.” When you think about it, the word “no” rolls off the tongue. In tough situations, like when you are being offered a beer or coaxed into doing something you do not want to do, can be the most difficult word to mutter. Practice saying “no” every chance you get, because you never know when the day will come that you need to use it in action! In addition to saying “no,” try your best to create positive peer pressure in your everyday life. Give a friend a compliment if you like what they are wearing. Lend a helping hand to a kid in your science class that you would not normally talk to. Spreading positivity everywhere you go is the easiest and best way to stop negative peer pressure from spreading!
Put an end to peer pressure, and keep yourself protected with these tips on how to defend yourself: