Tyler is a 16-year-old from Denver, CO. She enjoys reading and traveling, one day she would like to pursue a career in Business Management.
Everywhere teens go, look, or just walk by teenagers hear that tiny voice in the back of their heads telling them to do what is right for them and to not let anyone else make decisions for them. This is because most have been taught by society that peer pressure is a horrible thing that leads someone in all kinds of trouble. Most people, especially parents, think that they have to warn teens about the inevitable experience of peer pressure and how not to follow the crowd. Many associate this term with the usual: drugs, sex, violence, and alcohol. But this term has lately taken on an entirely different meaning. Growing up and bracing to step out into the real world I have realized peer pressure is not all bad, in fact, peer pressure is usually good.
Maybe this term is a bad thing at a certain point in anyone’s life, but after a few times around the track in high school this term becomes less scary, and more accepted. Imagine a world without peer pressure. No more movies like Mean Girls, no more lectures from parents. There would be fewer opportunities to take a stand about what you think is right. What is even scarier to imagine is the idea that everyone would do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted to do it. No one would be there to try to convince them otherwise, no one there to change their mind.
Personally, I am grateful that such a thing exists. Peer pressure has more advantages then most take the time to realize. For instance, a few months ago I was fairly proud of my ACT score of a 27. But then I realized that most of my friends had gotten 28’s or 29’s and many of them had scores that were in the 30’s. I now have decided to push myself to get a 30 when I retake the test. Honestly, this is the score I need to get when I apply to colleges anyway. Peer pressure has its ways of getting people to realize what they should be doing and to recognize their full potential.
Another example is social situations. Teenagers may be pressured to act, talk, or dress a certain way because of their circumstances or the environment around them. Yes, this has a variety of setbacks when teens become more self-conscious or start to act different. But the only thing that this type of peer pressure is doing is taming us of how we want to behave when we get older.
Peer pressure has its way of building character. Drugs and alcohol are a little different; this is where the gray area of peer pressure lies. Of course, a teen getting pressured into doing such activities is a bad thing. What is a good thing is when the teen has the courage to say no. This makes the teenager gain a lot more respect by the other people around them. The teen will feel stronger and will have a better head when the next situation comes along.
As teenagers mature, they start to experience the bad peer pressure less and start experiencing the kind that teaches them life lessons more. While at a summer program, I realized that I was experiencing peer pressure on a daily basis. I had to act a certain way to be viewed as civilized. Dress a certain way to be looked at as mature instead of childish. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing; it made me realize that I had to start growing up sooner or later. I had to try new things such as volleyball, basketball, and eat new kinds of food. This was relatively harmless. Maybe I was talked into procrastinating on things or doing fun things I never thought I would in a million years. But I learned something from every new experience. At the end of the day, I could honestly say I had fun or learned something.
Ten times to one, peer pressure is innocent rather than being dangerous. Questions like, “if a person jumped off a bridge would you jump off too?” are out of date. Follow your own heart, but do not be afraid to look at those around you as a guide.