‘Hey people! We are all going to skip our management class today. Who cares for that assignment? It’s boring like hell. Let’s have some samosas and tea at the café, instead. Let’s go!’ says the most prominent figure of your class. Do you do what you know is right and go to the class, assignment and all? Or do you give in and go with them?
As we grow old, we face numerous challenges. We have to deal with various decisions. They can be right or wrong, but it is important to take those decisions. Do we play cricket, or study at home away from friends? We all come across such situations every now and then, and usually do not know how to handle them.
Taking decisions single-handedly is a difficult task, and when other people interfere and try to pressure you in one way or another, it can be even harder. People who are the same age as you are called peers and when they try to influence your actions to make you do something, it’s called peer pressure. We all deal with it at every stage in life. Let’s see how this pressure can be handled.
Peers are a great part of our lives; they influence our lives in so many ways, even if we don’t realise it. We educate them and they also learn from us. It’s very natural to learn from and listen to the peers of your age group. Peers can have a very positive impact on each other. May be a student in your class is very active in co-curricular activities and you wish to be like him, or a colleague at office always comes on time and this inspires you to behave the way he does. We humans are always learning from each other and we are not shy of adopting new habits. Most of the times we take-up new habits from our peer group.
Lifeline Campaign by Women’s Empowerment Group is an initiative to educate and advocate the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) rights of Pakistani youth. The core concept of this campaign strongly endorses that peer to peer interaction influences a child in quite a few ways; therefore, one should be very careful in selecting a peer group. For example, Namia, a student of Pharmacy Department, Punjab University shares her experience that one of her class fellows was very fond of shoplifting; she always found her laughing and giggling with a group of naughty brats who were always making fun of others and doing the odd deeds. She said that her friend, before being a part of this group, was quite shy and sweet but after coming in contact with these brats, she became fast and very clever. This became her reason for shoplifting. She said that her class fellow believed, “shoplifting was fun and it made her look cool in front of her friends”.
Sara Afzal, a Youth Activist says that, “Sometimes we give in to peer pressure because we want to be noticed. There are so many new things that are happening around us all the time and we don’t want to be left out”. Keeping up with all the latest trends and happenings is the main reason for keeping up with all the peer pressures. The concept that “every one’s doing it” can influence us all to follow the pressures, leaving behind our personal judgments and common sense.
Dealing with peer pressure and intelligently handling it can be a difficult act initially, people will tag you as anti social and might also call you a weirdo but it’s better to say “no” to something you truly do not believe in instead of just living someone else’s life. Paying attention to your inner beliefs and concepts can help you take the right direction. Your self confidence and inner strength will help you stand alone for what you are and how you want to be. Walk away and resist doing things that you feel are not right.
Such resistance can also help others gain the confidence to say no. Clinical Psychologist, Qudsia Mahtab comments, “It takes a lot of courage to stand alone but once you are standing alone, you will find many likeminded peers standing with you. Share your valued vision with friends who value you truly and are ready to learn from you.”
This idea works best when you start getting a back up endorsement from other friends who are willing to resist unwarranted opinions just like you.
This is the reason why your parents and teachers advise you to choose friends wisely. If your friends are not into skipping classes, smoking, doing drugs and other anti social stuff, and then you probably won’t do these acts either, because your friends define what you are. Try helping others around you who are going through negative peer pressures. This will also help you build your own league of likeminded peers. We, at times, feel pressure even when we are not with any peer group; being alone and not being confident about it is also a pressure in itself.
You can always find new friends and walk away from people who are not of your type. Talking to someone you trust really helps. If you are having trouble coping up with your friends and you want to move on, talk to someone who is sensible and older than you. You are bound to get valuable, neutral advice. There is no harm in reaching out to one’s parents, teachers or any other community councillor who can easily help you get away from such situations.
It is said that home is the rescue point for all of us; we only give importance to external opinions when we don’t find our in house opinions worthy enough. This usually happens when we do not have a good relationship with parents, or our siblings are not friendly enough to share experiences and especially when our rights are not being fulfilled. A child succumbs to bad influence when he lacks guidance. This happens in cases of neglect, abandonment, ridicule, contempt, sarcasm, mockery, any kind of abuse, heavy judgments and lack of communication. These can be sorted only with love and care. Treating children positively can save them from so many negative peer pressures. Parents and siblings should always care for their younger ones; this helps in making a chain of positivity which is generated at home and further spreads amongst peers with positive peer interaction.
Individuality is the best feeling one can ever enjoy. We would never want to be a clone of someone. It is very important to realise what you want in life and how you want to reach to it. It is always better to devise your own paths in life; being a unique part of a monotonous whole brings you closer to your actual reality, so always look inside youeself for change and ideas and do not listen to opinions that can bring your self esteem down.