Peer Pressure


Alaina Christlieb, Student Editor

Peer pressure is something that we’ve all experienced in our lives. And it’s something we’ll continue to share. In our childhoods, during school, college, the workplace, everywhere. It can be something both positive and negative. It can be something that can help push us and be something that we probably shouldn’t be doing. There are both positive and negative aspects to peer pressure, and our society likes to talk about the negative aspect a lot more than the positive at times.

Peer pressure is something I’ve experienced plenty of times, both positive and negative. For example, I had horrible social anxiety a few years ago. I couldn’t go up to a server and ask for something, couldn’t ask my teachers for help, couldn’t talk on the phone, couldn’t be comfortable with new people. It was just really, really bad. 

Eventually, my parents wanted me to get a job as a hostess, and I was terrified. I didn’t want to work as a hostess, me, talk to strangers? Not, but my parents pressured me to get a job application. I did, I might’ve had a panic attack about it, but I digress. You might be thinking, well why are you talking about your job, and I’ll tell you. Being a hostess, I had to talk to people I did not know. At all. I need to greet them, ask about their day, see if they want any more drinks if they’ve finished their food, all of that. Doing that made me a lot more comfortable talking to strangers. My parents pressuring me to get that job made my social anxiety a lot more bearable. I won’t say getting a job cured my anxiety because it didn’t, but it did help me get out of my comfort zone.

Negative peer pressure is standard. You hear the stories about the great kids, outstanding students, and how they started hanging out with certain people; they started changing. Their attitudes changed, they started failing their classes, people who cared about them became concerned. You hear those stories all the time everywhere because they happen everywhere. 

Sometimes what happens with those kids is that they make a friend in a particular group of people and at first it’s little comments about how they’re doing in school, how they’re dressing, all of that. Eventually, they’re going to start asking them to hang out with them in situations that they might not feel comfortable. At first, they’re going to say it’s ok, and maybe next time, but eventually, they’ll start saying comments like, “If you’re scared, you can just say so.” If they keep saying no, those “friends” will start saying, “Why do we hang out with you?” or, “We always do what you want and never what we want.” They start to negatively pressure someone into wanting to do something they don’t want to do.

There is so much negative peer pressure in the world; our society forgets that sometimes peer pressure can also be positive. Let’s say there’s someone who’s a fantastic singer but is too afraid or nervous ever to want to sing in front of a stage or crowd of people. Their friends may slightly pressure them into doing small things, like singing in front of them to eventually build up to get their friend to do their school talent show. Stuff like that can be good for the person being pressured. Other examples can be your coworkers pressuring you into taking the lead on an assignment, and you end up impressing your boss, and they give you a promotion. You could be pressured into taking more challenging classes and end up loving being challenged by them. 

You have to remember, though, to be aware of when you’re pushing them too far. You could have the best of intentions and start pressuring your friend to do something, but if they genuinely do not want to do what you’re asking of them, back off. Respect their boundaries, and remember that you don’t want to push them into something unbearable. Sometimes being uncomfortable is good, but only if you agree to be put into that situation.