Teenage and high school years are an immense part in shaping the person you are going to become. Although school is given to us to receive an education, it can also be a place where you can develop relationships with many different people, join clubs and activities, and participate in a variety of different sports. This can make your four years as a high school student filled with many different emotions, including happiness, anger, sadness, jealousy, isolation, stress, and a numerous amount more. This is also a time where peer pressure is most commonly put upon a vast majority of teens.
Peer pressure is the influence from members of one's peer group. This can include influencing another to drink, smoke, cheat on a test, participate in sexual activities, lying, skipping class, etc. The list is endless. Peer pressure in high school is both harmful and effective because it can lead to teen depression, high stress levels, negative behavior issues, and poor decision-making and outcomes.
As a high school student, you may have a lot of different responsibilities. Waking up early, doing homework, studying, playing sports, working, etc. This can often make you feel overwhelmed and highly stressed with the many duties expected of you. Peer pressure is something that can make high school an even bigger obstacle. It can cause things like depression, anxiety, and a huge amount of stress. There are several types of peer pressure that can affect each individual differently. For instance, on SafeTeens.org, it reads:
“This includes Insults: making a person feel bad for not doing something, so that they eventually will. Rejection: pressure by threatening to end a relationship or a friendship. Unspoken pressure: simply seeing all your peers doing something or wearing something can be a form of pressure. Lastly, Insults: making a person feel bad for not doing something, so that they eventually will.” (SafeTeens 3)
All of these types of peer pressure can result in poor decisions as well as a confused mindset. Most teens also have a hard time with self esteem and self image. Marchofdimes.org explains the effect of this issue on regular basis. It explains:
“For teens who have low self esteem, challenges can become sources of major anxiety and frustration. Teens who think poorly about themselves have a hard time finding solutions to problems. Teens who think poorly about themselves are more inclined to engage in high risk behaviors, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and using illicit drugs.” (Dimes 2)
Peer pressure is something that causes conflict in an individual's life. The feeling of not fitting in, not being good enough, and not being a part of the “group” overwhelms and takes over the mindset of a regular teen. High stress and hurtful experiences seem to always be the result to giving to peer pressure because of the endless amount of negative aspects that can come with it. Statistics say between 20% – 30% of adolescents report symptoms of depression because of peer pressure.
Despite the fact that peer pressure is most commonly seen as a very negative issue, it can be seen positively in some situations. This can involve pressuring your peers to be honest, avoid drugs, avoid alcohol, respect others, work hard, exercise, be kind, be responsible, and more. An example of this is shown in an article by Stacy Zeiger that reads,
“Organizations such as the Red Cross, use peer educators to teach teenagers about safe sex because they have found that teens are more likely to listen to positive messages when they come from those in their age group."
Friends and peers really do have a strong effect on the choices you make. Choosing to have good friends can have a very strong impact on yourself. An article reads,
“Positive peer pressure can help you reflect on your actions and amend your ways to become a better individual. Observing others working hard to achieve their goals will definitely encourage you to step up your game and strive towards something positive.” (Secure Teens 2)
Choosing to have positive people surrounding yourself can make most peer pressure experiences positive rather than negative. This can also turn into strong habits that can make other individuals want to follow you. It all depends on your own dedication and decisions.
Given these points, peer pressure is still influencing someone else to do something. Even if it a positive thing, it is still someone else making you do something rather than yourself. Focusing on yourself and what you want is extremely important. Following and giving in to others can make you feel alone, controlled, and trapped. This pattern can be highly destructive and can result into true unhappiness. A quote by Steve Maraboli reads,
“At any given point you can release your greatest self. Don’t let anyone hold you back. Don’t let anyone dilute you. Don’t be peer pressured into being less than you are. People willing to dilute themselves for the sake of others is one of the great tragedies of our time. Stop letting others define and set the pace for your life. Get out there and be your best. Do your best. Live your best. Make every day count and you’ll see how exponentially more exciting, thrilling, successful, happy and full your life will be.”
This is an excellent example that portrays what people seem to forget. Focusing on yourself is what is going to make you the most happy in the end result. We cannot progress if we are focusing on being or following someone else. Realizing this can boost not only your worth, but your confidence. Overcoming these trials can be difficult, but can be done by changing your mindset. Being and acting for yourself is truly what is going to make you happy.
For the most part, peer pressure is something that should try to be avoided as much as possible. Learning to say no, standing up for yourself, walking away, and focusing on yourself is the key to stay clear from peer pressure. Although high school is a difficult place to avoid all the temptations and expectations, it can be shunned. A quote by Hellen Keller reads, “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties (Keller 1). Peer pressure is something that can not only last high school, but your whole life. Learning to deal with it now is something that will help you for the rest of life to come.