“He who saves one life it is as though he saves the world”. You make the call, you have control over what you want to do or not do. Do you really want to do it, or are you too scared to stand up for yourself and just say no? You must stand up for yourself, and be confident with your decision. What if you say yes? What if you decide not to stand up for yourself? What if you are not confident? This is the moment where you have to decide if that “one time”, will determine your path. But you really have to stop and think for a moment. Is what you are doing a complete and true definition of you? Whose life are you really leading?
There are two kinds of peer pressure. The Positive kind, and the Negative kind. The positive kind of peer pressure is, being pressured or convinced to do a certain task that you may not have had the confidence to complete or to do yourself. Another kind of positive peer pressure is when friends convince you not to do something that may not have been in your best interest. Negative peer pressure is just what it sounds like—It is when Peers try to make you think that they know what is best for you. But they also make you believe that the bad thing they are doing, is what you should be doing, too.
They try to direct you down a path, which is not the correct one. They push for you to have JUST ONE drink. To smoke JUST ONE cigarette…. But, the thing that you can do to save yourself is not always the easiest thing to do– saying NO. But just saying no may or may not be the end of the problem. What it means is that you have to be certain and confident with your choice, and have the inner strength to know that you are doing the right thing. Being accepted by people who want you to be a follower, and to go down what may be the wrong path, is being accepted or thinking that you will be accepted by people who are not really your friends.
Many people forget what the true definition of friend is. Why are people so willing to give into peer pressure? Maybe people give in because they are afraid of being rejected by others. Maybe they give in because they want to appear grown up. They don’t want to be made fun of; they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings; they aren’t sure of what they really want; they don’t know how to get out of the situation. We all feel it! We all do it! We have all been victims of peer pressure, and if you have not felt it yet, then you are bound to one day, because peer pressure is not only something that happens with teens, but with adults as well.
Even adults feel peer pressure – to have a nicer car, a nicer house, different clothes…etc… Unfortunately, negative peer pressure is never going to disappear. There will always be someone who will try to tempt you with something, try to convince you of something, use you for something. While we can’t change other people so easily, what we can change is how we react to negative peer pressure. It takes a lot of courage to stand up and walk away, when other people are doing something that you don’t want to do. It takes leadership to show the right path. It is so hard when “everyone” is drinking, when “everyone” is smoking pot, and you aren’t.
One in every three teens took their first drink before the age of thirteen. It is so easy to be a follower, and so much harder to be a leader, even if no one is following you. People need to realize that forcing or badgering or humiliating someone into taking a drink, is not being a leader. You don’t know someone’s reasons for not drinking, you don’t know if they are taking medicine that might really affect them if they drink, or if they have a medical condition that would be affected if they drink. So they feel pressured, take a couple of drinks, then get really sick, or get in an accident. Pretty negative right?
We have all heard about teen drug use since we were in middle school. We all remember that middle school was a really hard time, as we were trying to be so mature, and were still so young, and were trying to find an identity. Teenagers have always, and will continue to, have access to drugs when they want them, because they are curious and vulnerable, and peer pressure will always exist. The temptation to some how and some way, run away from things in our lives that cause conflicts, can let us become the victims of peer pressure, and drug use. Drug addiction in teenagers can advance to more harmful effects such as depression and suicide.
One out of every three kids has been given, offered or sold drugs in High school and Middle School and one in every four of 17 and 18 year olds smoke regularly. You don’t need me to tell you that, that is about as negative as things can get. You have the choice, and you have the control to stand up for yourself. Here’s the thing, you’ll never be able to stop peer pressure. People will always want you to be like them, because they want someone to drag along—it gives them more confidence and strength. But you can only hope that there will be good people out there that will encourage people to do good things, instead of bad.
If negative peer pressure was to end, and all we were left with was positive peer pressure, we would be living in a society that would be making great advancements in the right direction. For example, Relay for Life is a very important program that takes place not only in our community but also in communities all over our country. Kids raise money for, and awareness of cancer, by taking part in an all night walk-a-thon. By pressuring our peers to attend such an impressive community event, we are making a gigantic step toward finding a cure for all kinds of cancers. It is events and moments like these, which can change the world.
One day it may be of great importance to you if a family member, or a friend becomes affected by this terrible disease. Pressuring your peers to take part in doing good for the world is the greatest form of positive peer pressure and leadership. Now, let’s say that negative peer pressure is allowed, and continues to be a growing problem. Imagine this scenario: You’re at a party, and you see a kid from your school, and it seems as though he is not doing much socially. You approach him, and start harassing him about how he isn’t drinking and that he’s too scared to have a drink.
But to show you up, this lonely teen lets down his guard and has one beer, and then another beer, and then another beer, until he’s so drunk its unrecognizable who this person is anymore. You laugh, and walk away, not realizing that this kid who drove there all by himself does not have many friends, and none of them are at the party. The next school day you find out that one of your classmates is dead. He left the party, got in a car, and wrapped himself around a tree, resulting in his tragic death for which not only you but also everyone present at that party is to blame.
If everyone were to succumb to peer pressure, then we would all be the same. For example, lets talk about the clothes we wear—if peer pressure said that everyone should wear only clothing from Hollister, then we would all look alike. Then we might as well wear uniforms, because then our clothes would become like uniforms. And if every one lived in the same kind of house, and drove the same kind of car, had the same kind of dog, went to the same places for vacation, it would seem like communist Russia, and not the free country that we live in.
Although that is taking it to an extreme, and seems silly, that is precisely what peer pressure is, if there was no one to stand up for themselves. So, are you someone who wants to save a life or someone who wants to sabotage a life? Are you a leader or a follower? If you are a follower, or a life saboteur, do you want to change, and if not, why not? Are you happier making someone else unhappy? Remember, if you change one life, save one life, then it is something that can change the world, one person at a time…