Peer pressure is a movement that I feel I've learnt a lot about over the last 17 years. So here's all I know now about it...
Now, peer pressure has always been something that you hear your parents and your teachers talk about many times. You're told not to succumb to it, not to listen. When it was mainly drilled into me, I couldn't imagine the notion of peer pressure. I didn't really understand quite how much of it there would be and how anyone would want to make someone else feel uncomfortable through it. However, it's something everyone goes through and it probably changes into different forms as you get older.
I'm not saying this thinking I deserve a gold medal, but I've never (not to my recognition and, if so, it would have been something I've been happy to do, not forced) fallen into this peer pressure thing. When I was a lot younger, probably at about ten years old, I just didn't understand why someone would want to make someone make a decision that they didn't want to and didn't have to make just to please them. It's unpleasant and ugly. So, I wouldn't give in. If I didn't want to do it, for whatever reason, I wouldn't. Although I may have, I don't recall and ever since, too, ever being laughed at. Ultimately, standing up to peer pressure is being strong, being true to who you are. Others are possibly too afraid to say "no" and maybe even be impressed by you saying "no", wishing they could do the same. If something doesn't settle right in your stomach, don't do it.
Adults are all too quick to set out rights and wrongs and making it clear cut, one thing is just right and the other is just wrong. I think something that is left out from the "don't fall into peer pressure" speech is: it's okay to feel upset. Adults would say it's stupid to feel upset because you're doing the right thing, but I think that, although you shouldn't feel bad about it and you really shouldn't, it's okay to feel sad. That doesn't made you a bad person. There's no reason to feel sad and you shouldn't but you also shouldn't feel bad for being honest about it. However, the main point is, you've done the right thing for yourself.
It may be different for you, but I never heard a parent or teacher say "make sure you're not the person peer pressuring". I think this is also important. Don't be the person who peer pressure someone. Let someone's decision be exactly that: their decision. There's no more to it. Just don't do it.
The message of this post is:
1) If you don't want to do something, you don't have to do it. If you know it's wrong or not align with your beliefs about the world or what your parents/guardians have told you, just say no. It's a good thing, it's strong and amazing doing what you want to do, not what people are telling you to (providing the choice you're making safe, naturally).
2) Do not be the person making someone else feel uncomfortable and confused.
I presume that, at 17, I'm not through the last of peer pressure, but all I know now is that I'm strong enough to make my own decisions, not another person or group of people. Peer pressure comes in all shapes and sizes and none if it is acceptable.
Butterflies & Dragonflies,
The Girl in the Moonlight.
The first All I Know Now that I wrote.