You are the average of 5 people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn
Just like infants observe people around them and learn the same behaviour, language and activities – so are humans at any other stage in life. They become who they are surrounded with – whether it be because of a strong influence or just to fit in that circle and feel socially accepted. That peer pressure is real, and we all have come across it in some or the other form.
What is Peer Pressure?
Peer pressure is the influence exerted by peers or people from the same social group. These peers are our friends and other people of the same age group, ability or surroundings. It causes a person to conform, to be accepted by their social group or peers. This results in adoption of new habits and even a change in one’s lifestyle.
Peer pressure can change you entirely. From what you eat and wear to how you think and behave, even the music you listen to or shows you watch can be influenced by what your peers do.
Types of Peer Pressure and Their Impact
Peer pressure is popularly considered to be a negative influence. However, peer pressure can have positive effects too. It depends upon you – which habits you choose to adopt. In general, people with more leadership qualities are not easily influenced by negative peer pressure. On the other hand, those with a tendency to follow, are more likely to be affected by it.
Research finds that adolescent boys are more likely to indulge in risk-taking behaviours due to peer pressure.
- Positive Peer Pressure and its Impact
Peer pressure is positive when you pick up good habits from your peers, which in turn affects your life positively. This can also be a change in your mindset or way of thinking that can improve your overall life.
Your peers might inspire you to make a change in your life based on their way of living.
Positive peer pressure can make you more skilled and better as a person. Below are some of its effects.
- Reinforcement of positive habits and attitude
Positive peer pressure can help you develop positive habits or behave positively and be rewarded for it. Your school friends can help you develop a more positive outlook towards studies and other activities and encourage you to set similar goals and be better at what they’re doing.
- Enhanced self-confidence
When you indulge in different activities, it boosts your confidence and motivates you to take up more similar tasks. Self-confidence is the most beautiful thing one can wear, and positive peer pressure can help you build it.
- A sense of belonging
Participating in the activities your friends are doing can help you get a sense of belongingness and keep you motivated to practise it. For instance, if you join a gym by seeing your friends do it, it would help you keep up with your workout routine.
- Gaining new experiences
By indulging in different activities and exposing yourself to different things, you gain new experiences that teach you varied skills.
- Friendship and improving relationships
When you get yourself into the activities that your friends are a part of, you spend more time with those friends, and it improves your relationship, thereby strengthening your bond.
I have personally been affected by positive peer pressure. In class 11th class, one of my friends had created a blog page on Blogspot and started publishing her blogs, thereby showcasing her writing skills. While I was into writing since childhood, I didn’t know about blogging. Inspired by her, I started my blogging journey in 2017 and built a career in freelance blog writing.
- Negative Peer Pressure and its Impact
When you feel pressured by your peers to take up bad habits that you didn’t practise earlier, the peer pressure becomes negative. This can persuade you to make wrong decisions.
I have seen a lot of my batch mates indulging in smoking and drinking just to feel accepted. Fitting into the circle can never be worth your mental and physical health and your identity – which might get lost in conforming to your peers.
It can make you less confident, and distance you from people. Below are some ways it can impact you:
- Low self-esteem and confidence
When you indulge in negative activities and get criticised by your parents or other people, you start losing your confidence, and it lowers your self-esteem or how you look at yourself. This affects your overall well-being.
- Development of harmful habits
It can make you develop habits that are harmful to your physical, mental and emotional health. Smoking, drinking or drug addictions can make you more prone to life-threatening consequences in the long run that you won’t realise now.
- Self-harm or suicidal thoughts
You might be too late to realise how you’ve been under negative peer pressure, and the activities you indulge in might become your habits and addictions. But once you do realise it, you’ll find yourself feeling guilty about it and might even want to harm yourself.
- Sudden changes in behaviour
When you start following your friends blindly, you’ll start distancing yourself from people with different habits and perspectives. This can also cause disturbances in your personal and academic performances and make you feel low.
- Withdrawal from loved ones
If you develop bad habits or those harmful in some manner, you will be criticised by your parents and loved ones, which will make you feel detached from them, and you’ll start losing on relationships.
We, humans, have a tendency to follow others. The same is particularly true amongst teenagers, who tend to follow their peers to look cool or be accepted in the circle. Little do they realise that we lose our own identity in the process.
The best thing you can do is consciously surround yourself with people who are similar to you, pick up the positive habits from your peer group and adopt them if you feel that would benefit you. Let go of the negative peer pressure and dare to be different. Take inspiration from people while carving out your unique path.
How do you think one should handle Peer Pressure?
Voice your opinion by commenting below.