All of us have a time in our teenage when we feel need to fit into a group and if we are not able to do so there is an increased pressure to fit into the group by any means. Teenage is the time when emotional, physical and behavioural changes are occurring in the body and that leaves us perplexed and confused. It is the time when body-image, self-concept and self-image keep on changing dramatically and drastically. These changes are occurring in our peer group as well at the same time. This fact makes us more comfortable in our peer group and peer relationship becomes increasingly important.
Why is peer group important to teenagers?
In early adolescence most of the teenagers think concretely and have unrealistic and vague career goals like being a superstar or a movie star. These goals are usually not understood by your parents and family members and are understood only by your friends. This gives a reason to find a place in your peer group.
As the teenager reaches middle adolescence interest in sexuality and self-centric behaviour increases. Teenagers become more adventurous and their narcissistic behaviour makes them over adventurous and they don’t hesitate from trying anything new. Teenagers usually have a belief that nothing bad can happen to them. They have sometimes an elated self-concept. Teenagers sometime want to try alcohol, smoke, drugs and sex. In doing so they often put themselves and their peers in trouble.
Now all these things are usually not supported by rational adults who are their parents or siblings. They want teenagers to understand that this behaviour can put them in great trouble. The only people who are supportive, understand their whims and fancies, agree to their unrealistic goals are their friends and their peers. So being a part of the peer group gives them a sense of elated self-esteem and self-confidence.
What is peer pressure?
Sometimes being into a group can put you in trouble. Teenagers put themselves into such a situation or activities which are ethically, socially and legally unacceptable. Your friends or your peer group may think you to be cool or one of them, if you have done any of the following:
- You may be considered not so cool if you are not dating.
- Your friends might boast about losing virginity.
- They may motivate you for unsafe sex.
- Drinking alcohol or smoking might be too cool for them.
- One might even force you try out drugs for a high.
- You might be a member of the group only if you car race or bike race with them.
- Bullying or harassing someone weak might be new cool for them.
Your friends might do this and even force you to do so to be a member of the group. These things create an undue pressure on teenagers and they are in a situation where they cannot leave their friends and they know what they are doing is not correct ethically and morally.
How to handle peer pressure?
Sometimes you have to stand alone from the group to create your own individual identity. The above said things might make you happy or give you a high for some time. But life is a long race and these things have long term repercussions. Let’s have an insight about how can these things be a roadblock to your good future.
- Dating might make you cool but dating should be with the right person. At your age dating is not more than a good infatuation, in this process you might make good friends that are for lifetime. But if you start mixing sex and friendships you might hurt your partner and might end up losing your friend. Go for a physical relation when you are psychologically ready for it.
- Losing virginity is not a big thing but virginity lost once is lost forever. It is your choice whether you want to lose it for a jerk that doesn’t care about your feelings and doesn’t love you or you want to lose it when you are actually in love.
- Unsafe sex might make you cool in your group but it might give you a special gift called pregnancy or threats like HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
- Trying out alcohol, smoke or drugs might make you addicted to it which might make you socially cut out. Things don’t end here you might lose your prospects of higher education or a good job. These things have an adverse effect on your health and you might have lungs or liver disorders. This can even lead to cancer.
- Car racing or bike racing might give you an adrenaline rush but if an accident happens you can be paralysed for lifetime like many others and might have to spend rest of your life on hospital bed, worst case scenario is that your injuries could be fatal.
Now choice is yours whether you want to go with the tide or swim against it and have your own individual identity. Trust me it might be difficult in starting but it will gill give you an enormous self-confidence and you will not need to follow groups or try to be a part of it rather people would want to be with you.
Good luck, go ahead and find your own identity!
- Nelson textbook of paediatrics, 19th edition, Kliegman, Stanton, St. Geme, Schor, Behrman. Elsevier publication. ISBN: 978-1-4377-0755-7. Chapter-12
- Current Pediatric Therapy, 18th edition, Frederic et al, ISBN-13: 978-0-7216-0549-4. Chapter-6