The Ins and Outs of Peer Pressure

Writing by Isa Denney Strother // Photograph by Ira Limon

Peer pressure isn’t really something I’ve ever put up with. I do however believe it is natural, can be healthy, but can often cross the line into bullying.

Peer pressure can help you feel like part of a group (if you follow the crowd and listen to the pressure) and can push you out of your comfort zone so that you experience things you wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. It’s not always a bad thing.

Peer pressure is often just your friends trying to push you into something you wouldn’t have tried without a little pressure, and sometimes you end up being glad you did it; like you could be peer pressured into trying a new food, or going bungee jumping, or any number of small usually harmless things.

It’s always okay to say no–you don’t ever have to listen to your peers when they try to pressure you into something. It’s okay to say no or tell them exactly why you aren’t doing it or even just turn away and let it blow over. It doesn’t make you any less important. In this case your opinion is the most important opinion, and if you say no to the pressure, more power to you.

Sometimes peer pressure can be more dangerous than having a safe experience, like when friends pressure you to drink at a party or drive unsafely. Arguments such as: “I’ve done it a thousand times before,” or “you’ll regret it if you don’t,” aren’t something you should feel as if you should listen to. It’s okay to stay with what you’re comfortable with and it’s important to stay safe.

Don’t let yourself be pressured into things you know could risk your life, or hurt others.

Peer pressure is natural–it’s natural for teenagers (and adults too) to try and get their friends to do things that they believe in, or try to make someone do something dangerous for the thrills.

It’s natural to want to go along with it and want to feel like part of the crowd, but it’s important to know your limits and to know how to say no and walk away from a situation you cannot handle or do not want to be involved in. There is nothing wrong with this–”no” can be an empowering word instead of a word that would shut you off from people. Saying no can put you in control again, and keep you and your friends safe.

If you say no, other people might feel better saying no as well. By saying no, you might not only empower yourself and put yourself back in control, you might also empower others to do the same. If you can’t bring yourself to say no for yourself, say no because it might help someone else, and you might feel proud of yourself for standing up for yourself afterward.

Be proud of your choices; my granddad used to say, and now my mother does too, “Pick your principles and stick to them.”

It’s important to know what you are comfortable with, and then not to succumb to the pressure to go further than that. Staying in your comfort zone now and then is perfectly okay and healthy.

It’s perfectly fine to exit a situation that makes you uncomfortable and to just go home.

It’s always okay to be comfortable with yourself and your choices and peer pressure shouldn’t ever put you in a place where you feel you can’t say no.

Remember it’s okay to say no to peer pressure. Remember it’s okay to stand up for yourself. Remember it’s okay to change what you believe, and it’s okay to withdraw consent.

It’s okay to be yourself.


Ira Limon

Ira is an 18 year old photographer from Russia. Find her on Flickr.

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