Peer pressure

First off, thank you for all the congratulatory emails, and tweets, and Facebook posts, and blog comments. You guys are great. And Baby Sam (a boy!) is doing really well. Here’s the obligatory cute baby picture.

I feel terrible about leaving you without content for the last few weeks. I’ve always been an industry blog addict, and it seems that everyone shuts down their blog during August. Lately, a lot of blogs are shutting down, period. I miss Editorial Ass. Editorial Anonymous. Even Pimp My Novel is shutting down for a while.

I’m crying. Do you hear me crying? I am.

But none of that has anything to do with peer pressure, which is what I wanted to comment on today.

I write YA. You know I write YA. But it means that I spend a lot of my time trying to remember what it was like to be a teenager. Sometimes, that’s really difficult.

Other times, it’s really easy. Like when I think about the guy I dated in high school. We dated for two years. I loved him. He was wonderful, and well-raised, and fun, and funny, and we had a good time together. He dumped me because I wouldn’t have sex with him (I wasn’t ready), and all his friends were pressuring him to “do it.” He went to an all boys’ school, I went to an all girls’ school. Every year, my school had a variety show called The Coffee House, and because I played the piano, I was called on for any songs people wanted to sing. My ex-boyfriend came to the show shortly after we’d broken up, for whatever reason.

Wait, I know the reason. To tell me, during intermission, that he’d started dating another girl. One who “did it” with him on their second date. In the back seat of his Nissan Sentra.

(Sexy, right?)

I was crushed. I almost couldn’t go back for the second half of the show. I remember sobbing in the darkened school library. I mean, it’s one thing to dump someone because you’re not getting what you want. It’s entirely another to come back and slap them in the face with the fact that you found someone who will.

And all because of peer pressure.

My four-year-old goes to pre-K at a local private school. In the morning, they have eighth graders who direct the flow of student traffic, and hold the doors for parents, things like that. This year, the boy who holds the door is very polite. When he opens the door for me, he makes eye contact and says, “Good morning.” When I leave, he says, “Have a good day.” From what I can tell, he does this for everyone.

Because I was raised to be polite, I always respond in kind.

A few days ago, his friends were hassling him. Mocking him. “Ooooh, good morning!” and making kiss-up noises, things like that.

He ignores them, and keeps doing it.

But it made me wonder. By the time he reaches his senior year of high school, are his friends going to break him down? Is he going to start being a jerk, just because it finally got to be too much effort to be polite? Is he going to break some girl’s heart, just because his friends kept mocking him?

The sad thing is, he’ll probably get more girls (or guys, no judgment) if he keeps acting with politeness and confidence. But I know it’s hard to see that when you’re thirteen. Or eighteen.

Or hell, when you’re in your twenties and thirties and beyond.

How have you guys been affected by peer pressure? Does it play a role in your writing? In your life? Do you ever regret following your friends, instead of following your heart?

~

4 thoughts on “Peer pressure

  1. I must be the wrong person to ask, as I’ve always been a bit of a mule. If someone tries to harass me into doing something their way, the more likely I am to dig in my heels and refuse. I was teased and bullied in grade school, yes, but I can’t really recall ever doing something because of peer pressure when I really didn’t want to. I DO recall pressuring a few people to do something I wanted them to do though…;) (evil wink). (Nothing really horrible: things like doorbell ditching, setting the clock ahead in Spanish class, and driving by the houses of cute boys over and over again.)

  2. Oh, and I completely forgot to ooh and ahh over the baby.

    Ohhhhh. So cute.

    Here’s wishing for you that he soon starts sleeping through the night — at a ridiculously early stage. 🙂

  3. All I can say is, dude, what a douchebag! Or quite a lot of aussies online say, “asshat”.

    My heart goes out to the boy who opens the door, sounds like such a sweet kid. I hope they don’t break him down.

    As for peer pressure, I’m trying to think back to a particular scenario, but I can’t. I think the people I hanged out with knew how to avoid peer pressure.

    Oh wait! There was one time where we kind of played spin-the-bottle. No one told me to do it, but some of the stuff we did was a bit silly and I did feel slightly pressured.

    Congrats! Gorgeous baby.

  4. First: “Hello Sam! You’re darling! Now go to sleep so your mommy can get some work done.”

    Second: In HS, I had a really good group of friends and we all had the same standards, so no peer pressure there. Now fast forward to first job out of college. Convo went like this:

    Them: “You’ve never been drunk before?”
    Me: “No. I don’t drink alcohol.”
    Them: “Let’s fix that! I bet you’d be a lot of fun drunk!”
    Me: “I’m not fun now?”
    Them: “…Let’s get you a drink!”

    And yes, peer pressure is in my writing!

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