<aside> 🍕 Picture this: a large crowd congregates about you. They chant, fist-pumping the air. Their words become incomprehensible as you struggle to finish your last pizza slice, tossing the empty box into a growing stack.
“Do it, Jones!”
Nausea threatens to consume your body, however you still manage to tear off a greasy, cheesy chunk before downing some water. The crowd roars.
Just a few more bites…
Welcome to Peer Pressure Hills — where people, plus atmosphere, impose pressure on you. More importantly, where you actually feel pressure (because the atmosphere's usually cancels out). That crowd certainly lays it on thick with Jones. Yet, peer pressure manifests itself in other, often subtler ways as well. Prepared to discover how? I hope, because you’re in for one crazy ride. No pressure.
Google defines pressure in three ways — twice as a noun, once as a verb. The first simply states it through physics, as force per unit area. The other two define pressure in a social context describing either, “the use of persuasion, influence, or intimidation to make someone do something,” or to “attempt to persuade or coerce (someone) into doing something.” How do these three definitions relate? They all utilize a force, physical or otherwise. Force spurs action; at the very least, reaction. This explains why peer pressure-esque problems run rampant. People experience a frequently invisible force, urge, to do something, anything, so they can defuse the situation at hand — accentuated when pressure originates from closer relationships. Desperation yields drastic outcomes. Drastic outcomes resist change, often proving permanent and/or forever altering life’s course. Work this in your favor.
How do you navigate peer pressure when time, people, and circumstance clash? How do you know whether to succumb to your peers or stand against them (at least part ways)? Peers include more than colleagues, classmates, and acquaintances. Think about parents, family, friends, a partner, society itself. Anyone can pressure someone. Ask yourself these five questions to help gauge the situation when you catch yourself at a crossroads:
Consider whether you’d break the law if you decide to act in the pressurizer’s/s’ favor. This seems self-explanatory, however laws vary by state, province, country, etc. Furthermore, their punishment(s) differ(s) as well. Sometimes breaking a “minor” law in one state may effect much more serious repercussions in another, while remaining on record longer. Determine your actions’ legal risk(s).
Sometimes, we just need a hug, even if it’s from ourselves. Ahem. Harm inflicts pain upon its host. This usually unearths negative emotions, which impact multiple people — whose actions (or their effects) may circle back to you. You must also examine the moral, ethical perspective. How would harming either yourself or others benefit anyone? Think about the ensuing trauma, both physical and mental.
Our third question still holds merit, despite its potential to increase pressure. Would you proceed with the action in question before a trusted individual or role model (whether you personally know/interact with said individual or otherwise)? Think about why, either way, as this further clarifies your own reasoning for future decisions.
Know yourself. Acknowledge what you find most important and uncompromisable. Do these foundational tenets oppose, support, or neutralize what you or someone else wish to do? Study how certain actions affect, or will affect, your very essence.