If you ever find yourself in a sticky situation, you probably turn to your friends for advice. Peers can be an excellent outlet for talking our problems out in order to figure out the best decisions to make. That being said, we can’t rely on our friends to solve every one of our problems. Not only does this interfere with our independence, but we could actually be swayed off the right path, even by friends with the best intentions.
When you’re making decisions, it is important to consider your own opinions before you take anyone else’s word for it. How do you feel about what’s going on? Do you think it’s right? What do you think would be the best solution? It is much easier to let a friend take the wheel, because then you don’t have to consider all of these difficult questions—you can just use their answer. A problem comes up when you find you’re consulting your friends 24/7, and this is actually getting in the way of you expressing what you really think.
Friends mean well (if they’re good friends). Often, they’re just trying to let you know what they think is right. The thing is, what is right for your friends might not be right for you. Even if they do have good intentions, you don’t want your decisions to be constantly dictated by the opinions of your peers: this might lead you into making entirely the wrong choices.
Maybe you don’t consider peer pressure to be too big of a deal in elementary school, where the stakes aren’t so high. But think about the possible consequences of constantly following the leader, and the ways this could affect your future life. If you aren’t sufficiently independent to think for yourself and make your own choices, worse things can happen than simple punishments if you fall in with the wrong crowd. Furthermore, think about what it means to succumb to peer pressure all the time: chances are, if you’re letting someone boss you around, and do things you aren’t okay with, it’s probably taking a toll on your self-esteem.
You deserve to be respected. In order to respect yourself, you have to respect your thoughts and feelings as well. The next time you’re tempted to do something just because your friends are doing it, or because it seems “cool”, think about how you would act if there was no one around to judge you. Do what you feel is the right thing—don’t base your choices off the rest of the bandwagon. Guaranteed, you’ll be a happier person for it and have a better idea of who you are.