“They can come with whatever they want—but young Rowley will not disappear.”
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“Will I do anything to be accepted by my peers?” “Will I do anything to be ‘cool’?” “What if I don’t participate in wilfully hurting others?” “Will I be considered ‘a sissy’?” “Can I be different and still be accepted?” “What about my true feelings? Are they important?” “Am I important enough to my peers?” “Why do I feel I need their acceptance?” “Who now can I blame when I face the shame?”
These are questions which we are bound to face at some point in our lives. The answers to these and similar questions determine just how much peer pressure is present. There’s an inert feeling in us to belong. It gives us a sense of worth. What happens though is we place this sense of worth in the hands of others sometimes from a very early age. We naturally depend on our parents or guardians to affirm us. If we’ve been told negative things in our childhood like ‘we’re not good enough’ or ‘we’ll never amount to anything’ then chances are we may want to live up to these untrue labels until we discover, like I did, that we have it in us to be the positive change we really want to see.
Our lives are a reflection of the messages we store. The more pressure I put on myself to be accepted is the more I realise that I can be disappointed. If I place my trust in other people, then chances are I have opened up myself to the possibility of hurt. Yes, I must trust others, but the level of trust will be determined by those closest to me. I have learned that it’s better to put my complete trust in God. He will keep my darkest secrets a secret, not from me, but from those who can misuse the information.
We’re all a work in progress and for me to progress I must be willing to give up something. Sometimes it’s the friends who don’t have my best interest at heart. It’s the friends who my parents or guardians have always warned me about. “Friends will carry you, but they’ll never bring you back!” (I’m sure you’ve heard that at some point.) Yes, as I’ve discovered after many a mistake, they want the best for me. It’s just that sometimes we get that fact so late. Better late than never!
It’s so easy in the early years to join ‘groups’ for strength. This is supposed to take the pressure off of us, but being a member of ‘the group’ sometimes brings with it more pressure than we can first imagine. Of course nobody besides our parents or guardians tell us this side of the story. The stories that capture our attention, or those we tend to emulate, are those in the movies or even on the music videos that show groups seemingly having a great time at the expense of another. You may want ‘the bling’ but ask yourself “what does it bring?” Does it lead to an inner long-lasting happiness?
Try to put yourself in my shoes and see what I’ve learnt. I’ve learnt that I can do without the stress placed on me when I give into negative peer pressure. I don’t have to give in. I’m an individual with a specific purpose and though I may take some time to discover it, I don’t have to allow myself to be sidetracked. Dejected or rejected? It doesn’t matter. I may not have ‘the looks’ but I can still look forward to the promise of a new day. I’ll do what I know to be right? I’ll be true to myself! When I get off the popular road, I may be unpopular BUT that’s okay. It’s okay to be different! I’m on the new road to discover God’s pre-ordained purpose and plan for me. There is no other me! There is no other you! So when faced with peer pressure what will you do?