Unspoken Peer Pressure

girl thinking
Girl Thinking” by Owen Benson/ CC BY 2.0/Edited from original

Peer pressure is the kid who tells you it would be cool to drink and do drugs. It’s the group of boys who think it’s okay to flirt with their hands and say that if you actually respect women, you’re “gay.” It’s the group of girls who tell you that you have to starve to be pretty and insist that three layers of caked-on chemicals is “beauty.” With all of this pressure to conform, I’m of the firm opinion that peer pressure was and always will be the ultimate death of originality.

Now, I myself have never been the victim of vocal peer pressure, and I’m thankful for that. However, many times I’ve felt the presence of it. It’s like an unspoken thing floating around. No one explicitly says anything, but all the societal rules still apply. For instance, no one says you’re not cool for not doing drugs, but when you say you’ve never done them, people stare at you funny. In teen society, it’s almost like everyone’s default assumption is that you’re into a certain lifestyle, and if you’re not, it’s almost taboo (no matter how much anyone denies it). Sometimes it really feels like being innocent is almost a crime.

These days it seems that everyone has something negative to say about the school system, whether it’s the issue of bullying, ineffective teachers, etc. Nobody is talking, though, about the most common occurrence: people wanting to be a part of the crowd — the need to conform.

Not a word can be uttered, but you can still fall victim to unspoken peer pressure with the idea that to fit in, maybe you ought to try drugs, sneak out to a party, or have sex. Personally, I think that the way people romanticize a certain damaging lifestyle is what makes people want to live it. They make that lifestyle seem like the answer to all of life’s problems. Sure, everyone goes through hard times — and everyone has those periods of their life when they wake up with no motivation — but even when you feel like that, you shouldn’t try harmful things.

You may feel like you have to because of the other people around you, but believe me when I say that you are perfect the way you are.

That’s what I have always found so sickening: the fact that people are dying to change themselves because of what they think they should be. We live in a society that’s obsessed with comparing instead of compassion. A society obsessed with girls who are deathly thin instead of girls who are real — flaws and all. A society obsessed with all things fake and all things terrible.

Think about it. You are partially who you are today because of the people around you, so why not surround yourself with people who don’t make you feel like you have to change yourself to fit in? Surround yourself with people you feel 100% comfortable with. That’s what life is all about: making yourself comfortable and less susceptible to unspoken pressure.

I know that no matter who you surround yourself with, you’ll still have days where you feel the need to change something about yourself, but let me tell you right now: it’s pointless. It’s pointless to try and be something — somebody — that you’re not. It’s pointless to try and achieve perfection because, after all, perfection is unobtainable.

Just strive to be you.

Shelbie is a 15-year-old sophomore who finds tranquility in writing and art. (also Netflix and bubble baths.) She hopes to grow up and travel the world, learning about cultures and taking pictures of beautiful sunsets and beautiful people. She also hopes to live a mischievous lifestyle, by never letting anyone tie her down, and living on the open road for as long as possible before starting a career (in art of course).

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