As a teenage girl, soon to enter my 3rd year of high school, I feel safe saying that I have a pretty good understanding of teenage life. I also feel pretty safe saying that peer pressure is still a huge issue. Shocking I know.
Don’t get me wrong not all peer pressure is bad or harmful. Influence from one’s peers can be great. It can give people the courage they need to do or try something they never thought that they could.
There is also more complicated side to peer pressure. A side that even in all of its complexities still stays subtle. So subtle in fact that some people do not even realize that it is in fact peer pressure.
If you were to walk down the hallway of my school, what would you see? Girls in skinny jeans and plaid shirts carrying iPhone 4s in their hands. Guys in oversized basketball shorts and sweatshirts.
Is it just a product of coincidence that everyone seems to dresses the same? Or could it be something more?
It is really all simple. As much as teenagers say that they want to be independent and individual they really just want to feel a part of something. No one wants to stick out, that just opens the door for ridicule. I know this from personal experience.
It is a basic human principle that people like other people that are similar to themselves. This principle is magnified in the minds of teenagers. This in turn leaves teenagers with this cruel ultimatum. Either throwaway true individuality or live your life being ridiculed.
Or worse being called one of the worst things a teenager could hear; weird. In the minds of teenagers there is no greater insult and no greater slur than to be called weird.
Well at least to some. Some people, like myself, take it as a badge of honor. I see it as people acknowledging that I am not afraid to embrace my individuality.
As much as I do not mind being called weird there is something that does bother me about the word weird. Why does it have to be an insult?
It shows the detrimental effect that negative peer pressure can have. It is even worse that people do not even see it as pressure. Until people start to see it as it is, then a change will never be made.
I think that negative peer pressure stays because people want it to stay. As much as it can make life difficult it keeps life consistent and consistency can be nice. But the safety of consistency should not sacrifice the happiness of others.
Maybe negative peer pressure will never go away but I rest assured that I am doing my part to try and make life better.
And remember; peace, love, and brown sugar.