Back to School:
How To Handle Peer Pressure
by Kailey Fitzgerald
As a young girl, I remember wanting to fit in with my friends at school more than anything. If my friends were interested in a certain genre of music, a brand of clothing, or a specific TV show, I began to like those things too. I changed my own personal interests and even my own beliefs because I thought that was the only way people would like me. This can become a dangerous habit as you get older.
Once I hit high school, I began dealing with a lot of negative peer pressure. My so-called “friends”, would convince me into doing something that I knew was not right; like drinking, stealing, or using drugs. Giving into peer pressure got me into a lot of unnecessary trouble. I ended up developing an addiction to drugs, and the friends that I was trying to impress were nowhere to be found. I was choosing the wrong people to try to befriend, and in doing so I caused myself pain. I didn’t realize that all I had to do in order to be accepted, was to be a genuine and nice person.
1. Leave the situation
Sometimes when people are trying to peer pressure you into doing something that is against your morals, the best thing to do is to just walk away. You may be afraid of what people will think of you, but it’s important to remember that the people who are important to you would never judge you for having integrity. Remind yourself that you know the difference between wrong and right, and you don’t have to do something that you don’t agree with just because other people are doing it. In the long-run, people will like you because you stand up for what you believe in. Walking away from peer pressure can also help another person to gain the courage to do the same.
2. Come up with an excuse to leave
Many times, people will succumb to peer pressure because they don’t want to say no. Whether it be due to fear or embarrassment, it is never the best option to engage in an activity that you don’t want to participate in. If you find yourself falling for peer pressure because you have anxiety about saying no, you can always come up with an excuse to leave the situation. You could say that you have to be home at a certain time, have plans with different friends, or simply aren’t feeling well. No one can fault you for having previous plans that you can’t cancel. If someone blames you for being uncomfortable with doing something that you don’t want to do, that means they aren’t a good friend to you anyway. Your real friends will understand and probably won’t attempt to peer pressure you in the first place.
3. Try to use positive peer pressure
When a person is attempting to peer pressure you into doing something wrong like using drugs, stealing, or bullying someone, you can try to suggest a more positive activity for the group to partake in. Sometimes our friends make bad decisions, and when we care about them it is best to try to steer them in the right direction. Positive peer pressure is when you try to influence your friends to make positive choices that usually provide growth. For example, encouraging your peers to do play sports with you or even make art would be a good way to reverse their negative peer pressure into something that promotes positivity and growth.
4. Find friends who actively avoid peer pressure
If you find yourself in a group of friends who are constantly trying to peer pressure you into doing something wrong, it is time to find a new group of friends. When you are surrounded by negativity, it is impossible to remain positive and stay out of trouble. The best friendships are always the ones that center around positivity and a shared interest in personal growth. Your friends should be people that allow you to be yourself rather than people who are constantly pressuring you to do the wrong things. When you find friends who are actively avoiding peer pressure, you can have a sense of pride in who you and your friends are striving to be.
5. Get help from a trusted adult
If you are feeling stuck in the cycle of succumbing to peer pressure and can’t see a way out, it is always okay to find a trusted adult who can give you the advice or help that you need. Adults have usually been through similar situations as you when they were younger, and have had the life experience to reflect on the best ways to handle things like peer pressure. Even if you are in trouble because of peer pressure, an adult can help you find the best way to resolve whatever harm was done. Remember, your friends and family are only here to help you and guide you towards the right path.
Kailey Fitzgerald is a young and upcoming writer in the recovery community of South Florida. She enjoys finding creative ways to link recovery and addiction awareness to varying forms of art and is passionate about helping others to gain continuous sobriety.