If I told you to jump off a bridge…

Would you do it? Sure, some context might be warranted if you’re going to make a choice like that. How high up are we? What awaits us below? Do we have some kind of gear? The list goes on, but asking for details isn’t the answer you were supposed to give. This is a test of peer pressure, so the answer is always “No.”

… right?

Would you jump off that bridge if I told you to? (Nah, don’t do it, that’s shallow water; this is just a token bridge pic.)

Answering in the negative to any idea proposed by your peers is a perfectly valid way to live your life, assuming your friends are a bunch of degenerate, drug-dealing delinquents. (That was not intentional alliteration) However, if you surround yourself with people you relate to, people you admire, letting others occasionally take the wheel can lead to adventure, what life is really all about. This might be coming off like a Nike ad, but trust me on this: Most of the decisions I am proudest of making have been the ideas of others, filtered through common sense, that survived being bounced off friends and family.

“An open mind leaves a chance for someone to drop a worthwhile thought in it.” — Mark Twain
(Yeah, a Mark Twain quote… as if this post wasn’t valedictorian-speechy enough.)

This isn’t complicated stuff, “Keep an open mind.” is a phrase we’re all used to hearing. As my group of peers has evolved, I have found the value of keeping an open mind can grow exponentially if you make the effort to meet the mentors behind your peers. Perhaps, preconceived peer pressure perceptions paint positive peer pressure productions pessimistically.

(Okay, that one may have been intentional)

There is a second influence much like peer pressure that may or may not have a name; I really have no idea. This influence is unspoken and not put in to motion by peers, but rather it is the subconscious collective of what you think others will find “cool”. Ideas spawned by this influence can bounce around your head for years, and, while I can’t tell you if they’re worth following, I do have my theories. Personally, I have been lightly playing with the idea of becoming a fighter pilot for at least three years. Without input from friends or family, purely an idea of my own creation, it has circled my head time and time again with no sign of growing or shrinking. It is as if every pro and con has been laid on the table and the entire notion of playing or folding is in limbo. Of course, I could make an effort to talk to those close to me, probing them for their thoughts on the subject. Before I try that, though let’s evaluate where this idea came from.

Do a Wikipedia search for “shock diamonds”. You won’t regret it.

If a notion much like mine rebounds in your head with no sign of slowing down, whose source can only be your own thoughts, why causes it to remain there? Your peers might have an indirect impact, but if they have no idea that your idea even exists, it must be your ideals that keep the idea alive. It is something that you think others will find cool, but also something they have no idea about. Therefore, it’s got to be something that you find cool, something you truly would be proud of. So go ahead, ask your friends if that idea you have sounds cool to them. Recently, using a second idea that has been stuck in my head, I’ve tried that approach… only to find my friends are not as into the idea as I expected. Right away, my hopes were dashed; maybe this idea isn’t as great as I thought. Within an hour, though, it was running circles in my head again. That’s when I knew I wanted to do this.

Peer pressure has ups and downs; you would be unwise to make a blanket statement diminishing one or the other. This is why scrapping “Say no to peer pressure” should be a priority. To protect young minds from corruption, however, there must be some statement that reflects the dangers of peer pressure. In writing this, I can’t say I’ve come up with a clever or original phrase to use… then again,…

You might have a good idea.