College Life: Staying Above Peer Pressure
By Kelly Leslie, Student at San Francisco State University
College freshmen, let’s get serious for a moment. College is supposed to be an exciting, new adventure that is filled with fun and freedom, but by now, most of you have been away at school long enough to know there are some hardships that come along for the ride too, whether we like it or not.
Waiting to find out if you got into your first-choice sorority, being invited to go out with the "cool kids," making sure you’re up on the latest trends ... trying to fit in with your new peers is enough pressure already, but what happens when your so-called "friends" are the ones who end up doing the pressuring?
"Do you think it’s a deal-breaker that [my new boyfriend] pressures me to drink more than I want to?" asked a student in San Francisco, who wishes to remain anonymous. "He’s always teasing me to take more shots and I don’t even like to drink that much."
It may not be obvious, but this is a common problem for college freshmen all over the country. Whether it’s a roommate, friend or boyfriend, students who go away to universities often face pressure in many different areas of their life ... drinking is just one of them.
"He always does it jokingly, but it really makes me uncomfortable," she continued. "It gets me into situations where I am vulnerable, and I don’t feel safe."
Peer pressure doesn’t necessarily have to be in a party setting. It can happen on a regular afternoon with the people you thought were your friends, says Erin Coleman, student at San Francisco State University, who felt like a friend was too controlling during her freshman year.
"She always made me feel bad when I couldn’t hang out because I had plans with someone else," Coleman said. "She started saying really hurtful things, and I realized I probably shouldn’t spend so much time with her."
Heather Sisson, a college graduate from the health education program at San Francisco State University, says this happens because students are trying to find a home away from home.
"I think students just try too hard to fit in," Sisson said. "They are looking for people they can feel close to because they are so far from their family."
Regardless of what the reason is, it’s important that you stand up for yourself. Letting another student pressure you into doing something that you don’t want to is not only harmful for your self-esteem but can also be detrimental to your well-being. Chances are, if a friend is untrustworthy enough to pressure you into a dangerous situation, you probably won’t be able to count on them to take care of you when it gets you into trouble.
It may be hard to ditch the "friends" who actually don’t turn out to be that great in the long run, but if you just stick with it, you will eventually meet people who really do care. Try joining a club on campus that will surround you with like-minded people or focus your energy that on something that is important to you.
"I know this is going to sound cliche, but none of this will matter after graduation," Sisson said. "Just be you, and eventually you’ll find out who your real friends are."
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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