Let’s shift our definition of peer pressure

You can’t blame peer pressure on your peers.

Sam Bek, Guest Writer

The professors have miraculously turned midterm week into midterm month, but luckily there’s only a few hurdles left before the semester is over. However, it’s paramount that you focus on your studi—
“Hey let’s go to East Beach! A bunch of us are going to skate.”

A flurry of thoughts rush through your head: “Sounds fun! But I got homework. Do the others have homework? I should probably study, but I’d rather socialize.” Although the idea sounds great, it is a Thursday evening, and even though there’s just one more day until the weekend, it is still a whole day away. What do you decide to do? You end up going despite the load of homework you have. Why? Maybe you like to procrastinate, but maybe your decision is due to something else: peer pressure.

“Peer pressure? Naw, that’s impossible! Peer pressure is that thing when you are in a circle and people force you to do a dare or do drugs.”
I don’t know about you, but in my experience, that definition is a scam. Peer pressure is much more subtle. Like a frog sitting in water slowly coming to a boil, something feels off, but the frog continues to sit despite the rising heat.
In order to better understand peer pressure, we should answer the question of where peer pressure comes from. What fuels peer pressure? Where does it get its power? Is peer pressure even from your peers? We need a few more pieces of the puzzle to help us process this question.
Let’s start with FOMO: the fear of missing out. You do not want to be the lone individual missing out on the fun stuff. While your friends are making memories, you are working on writing a letter to the modern-day church for New Testament. You could be the person who sleeps early, or you could hang out and watch a movie until 3:00 a.m.
Other key elements of peer pressure include expectations and disappointment. We want to fulfill the expectations of others and avoid disappointing them, and the pressure triples when dealing with those with whom we have important relationships. When our friends or family ask us to do something, it’s hard to say no because we want to deliver.

The familiar pressure to say yes. (Jordan Lewicki)

Peer pressure is often thought of as originating from other people, but I think a lot of it has to do with us, the affected individuals. Maybe a more accurate label would be “fear pressure.”
Choosing between skating at East Beach or working on that paper is not easy. Some people push through their stress and somehow juggle the two activities, but I wouldn’t suggest that strategy. Although it works for some people, the truth is that there will just be less time to work. Regardless of your choice, do not let “fear pressure” be the deciding factor. Don’t be scared of letting your friends down. It might be easier said than done, but if you are having these feelings, consider whether those concerns are legitimate.

“ I want to have fun with the group! I don’t want to miss out.” Me neither. To be honest, it sucks when we have to miss out on these things, but you’re wrong to think that your value as a person decreases when you have to say no. Your mentality might have to change.
Now I get to use some of my economics knowledge! In economics, there is a concept of opportunity cost. You have to ask yourself what you need to give up in order to spend that time with friends. You could give up studying and homework time, but maybe that isn’t the best. Let’s consider something else: personal entertainment time. We cannot create more time — there are only around 24 hours in a day — so we must do our best to allocate our time. If that means giving up TikTok for an hour, then so be it!
Perhaps, you might think, I would cut back on socials if I could. That is where your friends come in! Ask for help to stay accountable to your schedules. Or, if you find yourself having trouble saying no when people ask to hang out, ask them to help you say no! Resisting pressure from others is difficult, but it will be worth it in the end.


Opinions expressed in letters and other editorials, unless otherwise stated, are those of the writers and not of The Horizon staff or the college collectively.

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