Peer pressure has existed for centuries. It has many faces, many disguises and many weapons at its disposal. That’s because deep down, there is a need within most people to please others. Pity that most times pleasing someone else seems to have to come at a price… or does it?
In my life, I’ve been offered drugs more times than I can remember. I smoked cigarettes for ten years of my life and I still indulge in alcoholic beverages. Everything else, I’ve said thanks but no thanks. It’s not that I have anything against drugs, it’s just that I don’t need them.
With cigarettes, I tried them because I wanted to know what the experience was like since my dad, my mom, my grandfather, my great uncles and aunts and countless other people I know, smoke or smoked. So I wanted to know what the big deal was about. I smoked for ten years until I got tired of three-month lasting colds, it turned out my wife was allergic to cigarette smoke and I almost drowned while surfing because I was short of breath. In the end, the decisions to start AND stop smoking were all mine.
In regards to alcohol, I was asked if I wanted a drink because someone was getting a round and I answered “sure, except I don’t drink so make it something that doesn’t taste like rubbing alcohol.” I got a white russian as my first drink, great choice. On other occasions, I was offered alcohol and I said no, and guess what, that was a perfectly acceptable answer. Again, the decision to do or NOT do something, was all mine.
I’ve been offered cocaine, pot, acid, mushrooms, ecstasy and a buffet of pills and I’ve always said no thanks because I consider that under the influence of any of those substances, I would not be in control and that they would be detrimental to me.
And that’s just drugs.
Peer pressure has come in the way of job offers, hookups, fraternities, bullying and even hangouts. People have tried to pressure me into taking a job. I said no thanks. A woman once questioned my masculinity because I didn’t want to sleep with her. I still didn’t sleep with her. Good friends have told me I HAD to be a part of their fraternity. And there’s the point.
You don’t HAVE to do anything. At all points in my life, I have worked hard to remain true to who I am and to decide for myself what I want to do and what I don’t want to do. I am able to do this for two main reasons:
- I’m completely aware that I’m the one who will have to face the consequences of my decisions and actions.
- True peers don’t pressure.
A true peer engages with their fellow peers. They share experiences, opinions and stories. Still, they don’t pressure, because true peers want to elevate others as much as possible. Anyone who tries to pressure you into something is NOT a peer and is most certainly not a friend. They either have a need to force you into common ground so they feel good about themselves or they need to manipulate others to feel in control, and therefore superior.
They are not superior unless you bend your will to conform to theirs. I’m not saying this isn’t an option. Of course it is. Politicians, company executives and people of all trades yield to pressure on a daily basis and it even brings success to some. Hell, it can even make you rich. But does it make you happy? For some people maybe it does, though not for me.
It is my right to disagree and follow my path and that doesn’t make me a hero or a better person. It just helps me sleep better at night and be a better me.
So here's to free will and enjoying it fully.