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  • Audrey Miller

Listening to Your Own Mind: A Beginning Guide to Peer Pressure

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

Peer pressure looks like a lot of different things. The classic: if your friends jumped off a cliff, would you.?Think about it, though, would you? How about if everyone started wearing the same shoes, would you want them? The funny thing is that under different circumstances, we forget that peer pressure exists. We continuously and unconsciously push our personal boundaries to adhere to something we otherwise would have felt uncomfortable with. Small or big, deciding what voice is yours and which one isn’t is essential to being you!

Being in high school, there are a lot of things that teens face that they might not necessarily want to do. What’s okay to certain people is NOT OKAY TO OTHER PEOPLE! We often forget that not everyone is comfortable with the same things, so how do we know what to say to make our boundaries clear?

In high school there's so many voices in our heads. Teacher tells you this, your friend tells you that. It can get so overwhelming and you start to forget whose talking. Is it you, or them? Then there's the silent voices. The rumors that spread around. If you dress like this, you'll get more people to talk to you, if you do this sport, you'll make more friends! The thing is, while one person might be totally fine with those things, someone else isn’t and being conscious of how controlling we're being is being considerate.

A lot of people will argue, as will I, that in high school, no one is verbally forcing you to do something. It’s the glares and the friendships that you are not let into because you don’t do what other people do that pressure you. This is called unspoken peer pressure. When you see a person that is doing what you don’t want to do, but they seem like they’re having fun, you want in. Some people are cool with it, but you're ever uncomfortable, here's a game plan:

- The first thing is just being yourself. People won’t have a reason to judge you if you’re being you and you know it. People only find weakness in others who are weak in their own self image. Most of the time, no one is going to verbally push you, it’s always in your head. If you don’t think that people are thinking about you, you will care less. The most important thing is that other people’s opinions on you are not valid unless you let them be.

- Another major point is determining where your opinions and beliefs stand. It’s okay to change your opinions based on what other people say, it only becomes an issue when you no longer feel yourself or feel comfortable. It’s okay to be verbal about your opinion on things, in fact, people want to hear your thoughts, so don’t be scared to speak up or chime in.

- If you are ever doing anything for the approval of others and it is taking a toll on your mental health, it isn't worth it. All of this; high school, teenage recklessness; it's completely meaningless in the long run if you are doing none of it for you. Every decision you make should be for the well-being of yourself.

If you ever feel like you are slowly shifting from who you are, look at the people you surround yourself with. You become like your surroundings whether you like it or not, so do a re-evaluation check. Are you happy with who you are? Are you comfortable the way you are? Do I actually want to enjoy my life and living up to everyone else's approval? If you surround yourself with people you look up to, who consistently push you, and who make you happy, then you can assure a lasting friendship.

There are so many different options for how you choose to live your life, but for now, battle high school. It's okay to follow the crowd, just don't ever let it cross beyond your comfort. We can either constantly live in fear, or we can choose to live unbothered and independent. No one else lives like you do, so don’t compare your life to anyone else. In the long run, being yourself will carry much farther in life, so take the time now to discover it while you can.

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