If you have a twin you probably experienced this before mum’s contractions began. You didn’t want to come out but your sibling was way too eager to experience the outside and you had to leave the comfortable confines of the womb because your sibling, mum, doctors yelling push, nature and all else pressured you to. We all experience this through various stages in life. Growing up we all get the desire to fit in and be part of a social group. We all want to be accepted and have a sense of belonging among those we interact with on a daily basis. We are human and no man is an island, so they say. Peer pressure is always viewed as a bad thing. Back in High-school teachers always gave us the same story of making it in life by yourself. “You came to school by yourself and will leave the same way”. I always believed this to be a bit flawed. Peer pressure does not necessarily have to be negative as portrayed by most of our teachers. Some pressure can motivate you to be of equal standing among your peers who are doing great things in life or strive to be better than them.
Positive peer pressure
If you’ve ever been part of a team and are not the star of the team or are not always in the starting line up, you’ve probably had a taste of pressure. You constantly want to get the thrill of your team mates looking to you when they need that game winning goal or points. So you’re constantly breaking your back to improve that strike, that free throw or endurance. You are constantly pushing yourself to and beyond your limits. It’s not fun. It’s way easier not to put in that extra hour at the court improving your skill. To just stay home, or eat that triple decker cheeseburger that the coach asked you to stay away from (they always look so good on the ads). But you view your teammates and how much better they are getting each week and want to match them so you can be a regular in the first team.
You may have been out of a job for a while or just finished school and therefore do not have a job or a steady source of income. You look out and realize that most of your friends are either working and have a career they’re working on. For some of us, this can be motivation to get your act together and go out there and hustle. Just do something to avoid sitting at the corner block for hours with your 35 year old ‘hommies’ who have done this for the past 20 years. Talking about who’s doing what where with whom.
The pressure is only good when there is a positive outcome/result at the end that leads to growth of the individual in one way or the other and also affects the people around you in a positive manner.
Negative peer pressure
A lot has been said about this and so I will not delve too deep into it. If you find yourself changing your persona to suit the people around you which leaves you tired and not happy with who you are becoming, that’s negative peer pressure. Marrying the next guy who says hi because most of your friends and family think it’s time, negative. Taking a trip on LSD because it’s what all the ‘kids’ are doing these days, negative. When you quit your job to go on a world tour with your friends who are on paid leave, I’m positive that’s negative. Jumping off the school roof because everyone will think it’s cool as they all yell “JUMP!”. That’s a no go. Mid air you’ll realise you f****d up.
In the end I would just say that the best thing is to know what it is that you want in life. Live life by your own terms. Do whatever makes you happy as long as it doesn’t cause people harm or duress. Be your own person governed by your own rules and goals in life. An example that comes to mind is my brother who’m I really respect because he never let people dictate how he would live his life. Growing up in Kenya where everyone expects you to go to school or whatever to be a doctor, lawyer or teacher did not stop him from wanting to be a manga artist. He was pressured into doing math and all other technical subjects which he did not care for, when all he wanted to do was draw. Tell stories through art. Parents pressure their kids to study what they perceive to be right without due consideration of what the child wants. Some want their kids to be orchestra violinists when all they want is to be professional archers or football players. It’s all in a bid for them to live vicariously through their kids. Most of it comes from a good place but there’s always a limit at which you should let one dictate their life.
Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. Right is right even if no one is doing it. Take charge of your life each day and be yourself.