In most cases, teenage is a life phase which is enjoyable, and people collect innumerable beautiful memories being a teen which they cherish once they grow into busy and earning adults with their shoulders stooping while carrying hundreds of responsibilities. These walks down the memory lane become a respite from all the stress of adulthood. But as grown- ups have you ever reflected on the things you did under ‘peer pressure’?
In layman language, peer pressure refers to an influence which is exerted on an individual by his or her friend(s). Mostly, teenagers fall prey to this ‘influence’ and do things which can even risk their lives.
This phenomenon works subtly but can have colossal and adverse effects on the mind and life of an individual. One believes that each and every one of us, at least once in our lives, has done something because our ‘chums’ implored or forced us to do it. This sounds quite simple but unluckily, it isn’t.
This pressure can have various manifestations. There are different forms of peer pressures which are the most common as far as the Indian scenario is concerned. Teenagers are forced to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes and indulge in drug abuse just because their ‘friends’ do so. Teens bunk classes because their ‘pals’ do the same. Adolescents think that it is a compulsion to get into a relationship with the opposite sex because this is what every ‘chum’ of his or her is doing!
The crux of the matter is why do individuals tend to toe the line of their peer group and engage in activities which can have long- lasting and harmful impacts on them and their whole lives?
Teenagers tend to do this because they have the fear of missing out embedded in their subconscious. When everyone around the individual starts doing a similar thing, he/she believes that it is the new ‘cool’ and if he/she doesn’t do the same then that will label him/her as ‘not cool’ or a ‘nerd’.
Things like alcohol or drugs, boyfriends and girlfriends and bunking classes to watch movies are seen to be attractive and the people doing such things are seen as ‘happening’ with whom everyone wants to mingle. Also, teens cannot afford to be shunned by their groups and be called as ‘behenji’ if they don’t wear the latest mini- skirt available in the market or ‘chomu’ if they don’t listen to English songs. Obviously, peer pressure is the toughest form of pressure teens must endure. Not once or twice but daily!
The impacts of this influence can be perilous not only for the individual but for his or her near and dear ones as well. According to reports, the approximate number of teenagers who are into regular smoking is over 3 million across the whole world. According to Kaiser Foundation, over 50% of the teenagers in India experience peer pressure to engage in sexual activities early on.
Although peer pressure is mostly faced by adolescents, it can hit an individual at different spheres and stages of life, be it academic, professional, or family. Yet, its effects have the largest impact during one’s teenage years.
Peer pressure does not necessarily have to be negative in nature. For instance, an individual can explore new and productive habits and paradigms while being around with his/ her pals. If an individual begins to be with people who love to read, it is natural that he/ she will start gaining knowledge about new books, the hobby of reading and will most probably develop interest in the same.
But unfortunately, positive peer pressure seems to be less prevalent in our society. Therefore this phenomenon poses imminent threats to the budding youth of the country. Therefore, it is crucial for us to find solutions to this problem.
Firstly, let us all begin talking about such issues. Everybody is well acquainted with the fact that peer pressure exists on a large scale. Most of us have experienced the same too and yet we tend to be oblivious towards this bitter truth and its impacts. Let us try to sensitize the youth and anyone else who feels smothered by the norms set by his/ her ‘friends’.
Secondly, as an individual being, listen to your conscience. Pay heed to that inner voice of yours because it never lies. Your conscience will never allow you to fall prey to habits like alcohol or drug abuse. Talk to your own self before it is too late, and you get stuck inside the marshy pool of venomous habits and addictions.
Next, change your ‘friends’. Believe me you, if people you hang around with force you to go against your free will, they can never be your well- wishers or your friends. Go out and look out for people with similar choices and goals in life. Life will become much easier and less suffocative for you.
Fourth, do not let your individuality die. If you feel that there’s something that people around you engage in, but you are uncomfortable in doing so, just say NO. Remember, you are not a puppet playing into their hands. Do not pay heed if someone calls you a nerd because you love reading novels while others hang out in nightclubs. Accept and love yourself the way you are. Do not undermine your self- worth.
Fifth, do not bottle up your feelings inside you. If you think you do not get along well with your peer group or feel pressurized due to this, talk to your parents, relatives, cousins, or anyone you feel like sharing your ordeal to. Trust me, these unexpressed feelings add on to what you suffer. Do not augment your own hardships and TALK!
Peer pressure is here to stay and each one of us has to fight this rival during our life journeys, thus, learn to discern the right amongst the wrongs; do not go for toxic people or habits. Trust me; you are much more than bunking classes. Explore yourself, explore the world, and do not succumb to pressures that are exerted by people around you. And most importantly, LOVE YOURSELF.