It’s always hard being the new kid in town and school. It’s even harder when you want to fit in with the cool kids.
It’s Cady’s first day in a real school, after being home-schooled her whole life. As she’s walking across the lunchroom to sit with her new friends, the Plastics, the most popular clique in school, invites her to sit with them. Karen, one of the Plastics, says that on Wednesdays, they wear pink. Cady gets it. She has to wear pink too.
This scene from the movie “Mean Girls” says it all. Peer pressure. It happens to all of us. And when it does, we have a choice. To go along with it and “fit in,” or walk away. That’s why I went along with the pressure my “friends” put on me – I wanted to feel as though I was a part of something, a group of people that loved and wanted me. I didn’t want to be the weak one in the group, the one that would be called “coward”, “chicken”, “wimp”, “loser” — all those names that make us stop believing in ourselves. I wanted to be looked up to, appreciated, and maybe even powerful.
Peer pressure isn’t just about the clothes you wear. It can be about smoking cigarettes or listening to music. I can still remember being left behind by my friends when we were walking around town. I’d stop when the light turned red. They would carry on walking, calling me from the other side of the street and sometimes even walking away. I’d be left waiting for the light to change before chasing after them. Sometimes, though, they won, and I’d run to the other side when the light was still red, feeling horrible.
It was not worth it. At all. I forgot my true self, just for a few moments of glory or acceptance. I ended up doing something I was against and gave up my values for others, even if it was just crossing the street. Truth is, it starts with the small things and after a while, you end up forgetting who you really are.
That’s how bad peer pressure is.
So when you are faced with pressure to do something that goes against who you are and your values, you always have a choice. You don’t have to give in. You can stand up for them and say, “No.” It’s hard, but it’s better than selling yourself out. Walk away if you need to, and find people who will accept you and your decisions. And be proud of yourself for standing up for what was right for you.