Another Story - Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is when your friends or somebody else is trying to force you to do something that you do not really wish to do. Often they try to convince you through name calling or others ways of being mean. I will tell you my experience with peer pressure and how I coped with it. Although it is not a very cool thing to go through as I suffered quite a bit, I feel that at the end of it, I do feel cool because I did not do stuff just cos my friends thought I should. I stuck to what I believed in and what I felt was right for me. I feel strong.
I was part of a group of five girls at school and I really loved being with my friends. At the age of around 13, they all began to change. I used to feel like I did not know who these girls were, it was like I did not know them anymore. They wanted to do stuff they saw on t.v. or wherever, stuff that made them feel grown up. One time we went to the cinema together and in the intermission we went out to buy sweets. One of the girls began to giggle and said she had a surprise for all of us. We all went into the bathroom and she brought out a cigarette from her bag. She said she stole it from her mother’s pack. Lisa (her name) said that if we smoked it we would be so cool. She had even bought a lighter. I felt my heart sink, I really did not want to do this, I hated cigarettes, I thought smoking was not cool, not the other way around. Two of my friends were totally convinced and so Lisa lit the cigarette and put it in her mouth. She took a breath in and then blew out the smoke. She coughed but then looked really proud. She passed it on to the other two and they did the same. Then it was Ana’s turn. She said she did not want it and the other three began to call her a nerd. They said, "you are such a chicken and sooooo uncool, if you don’t take it you will not be cool like us and so you cant be our friend". Ana looked really scared and weak, like she was going to give in so they continued to tease her. They said “nerd, chicken, baby etc”. Ana then took the cigarette and copied the others.
What should I do? Give in to them or go with what I believe in? Do I want to be liked by 'friends' who won't accept me as I am? As a person who does not smoke?
I looked at them and walked out of the toilet saying, "See you inside, I am a non-smoker and I will not smoke just to be accepted by you."
They do this because they do not want to be the only ones doing whatever it is they do to feel cool.
I did this with my mother about saying no to alcohol and I think it helped me when I needed to tell my friends no to cigarettes.
All kids feel the need to fit in and this is ok, but sometimes you may find yourself doing things not because you want to but because others have told you to. You may fear saying no since it will make you look dumb, or you may think that your "friends"might not like you anymore. True friends will accept you just the way you are!
Please remember that you have every right to say NO, all you need is the courage to do so . It is hard to find this courage at times but it will help keep you safe and out of trouble. So practice saying no – imagine conversations where you wish to say no and practice doing so. Ask someone you trust to help you or use a mirror!