The saying goes that only two things in life are certain—death and taxes. And the latter has become a rather grey area for some. Never mind. But here is the thing: the older I get the more I wonder if there is a third certainty that we all have to reckon with. Yep, you guessed it: peer pressure.
We all experience it throughout life. Ever since I can remember, I’ve known about it. Of course, as a child I might not have known its name or fully understood it, but when one of the kids of my youth encouraged me to hide underneath my great grandparents’ old house, though we had been warned of snakes and other dangers, I couldn’t resist the possibility of an adventure. Others had done it and lived to tell the tale. So did I but not without causing a lot of upset to a whole lot of people.
Fast forward, as a middle-aged woman (gulp) the pressure is still on daily, also known as keeping up with the Joneses, not something that I consciously engage in. While peer pressure can be far more elusive at this age, it’s there. For example, when considering strong encouragement from a peer on what outfit to wear for a celebrated occasion, for example, I find myself tempted to give in to what others are doing or to make comparisons that leave me feeling glum.
Make no mistake about it, I know all talk about grooming isn’t about peer pressure. I receive lots of handy advice with no pressure at all and have been known to give out some too, but when peers, people around us, pressure us to do things that make us uncomfortable that might have negative consequences mentally or physically, it is important to see it for what it is—peer pressure.
My examples are small things, don’t sweat them, but there are bigger ones that can be quite intense during the teen years such as pressure to stay out beyond a curfew, drink, smoke, cheat on an exam, get up to shenanigans online, engage in violence, have sex and so on.
Many of these big topics gain momentum in the name of youth or because they are billed as a rite of passage and/or because everybody else is doing it. And if given in to, the consequences can be life altering.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of wonderful advice out there to manage peer pressure. Hence, I have taken six top tips from UIO’s podcast series:
Keep self-confidence in tow – ‘Just like we put on coats and gloves when we go out into inclement weather, we need to put on self-confidence when we step out into the world.’
Show yourself some love and take care of yourself – ‘Your body serves you now. It really is your temple. Look after it.’
Don’t worry what everybody else is doing – ‘Try to avoid making comparisons, you are unique.’
Know yourself, what you really value and hang onto it – ‘The thing that you want to dull because you are not fitting in. That is your bit of uniqueness. Own it. It is your superpower.’
Dare to be different – ‘It takes a brave girl or woman to say wait a minute, I think I am worth more. I have infinite worth and value.’
Think about who you hang out with; who you choose to trust – ‘Those that matter won’t mind; those that mind won’t matter.’
All good stuff from the ladies of UIO. Now about that adventure; it was a hiding to nothing and hardly worth the admonishment I received from my father. As for bagging the right outfit for a special occasion, now is the time to dare to be different. Feeling less stressed already.