By Hussein Ahmed and Lama El-Najdi

Peer pressure is one thing many teenagers have commonly experienced. From the stress of school, social life (or lack of), to not knowing who you want to be in the future, you go through this tremendous pressure to be the ideal student and the perfect son or daughter; furthermore, you experience this dreadful, but necessary, transition to adulthood. Before you get to the highway called ‘adulthood’, how do you persevere and resist the temptation of succumbing to peer pressure?

Being a teenager is a difficult phase: it’s that period of time where you’re not exactly a child anymore, yet you’re still not an adult. Also, it’s probably the most important stage your life because it represents the essence of your individualistic foundation; it’s the age where you begin to form personal opinions and grasp the concept of ‘The Real World’ while simultaneously figuring out your interests and ideals. Alas, you’re still pressured and expected to be picture perfect and to abide by a number of traits, while made to believe that that’s equivalent to being authentic. In addition, you may crave acceptance in order to be liked so you tend to conform and push buttons you’re uncomfortable pushing. While doing new things is exciting, it’s on par with being in a sugar-rush, and every sugar-rush ends with a sugar crash – it starts out as a feeling of absolute exuberance and ends with a sea of questions and self-doubts.The average teen thinks he/ she is one thing today, and another thing the next day. Your community might constantly influence you; thus, distinguishing what’s fed to you from what you truly want is difficult. The most important and basic thing you can start with is to always try to improve yourself. Not necessarily be better academically, but to be as true to yourself as possible. For example, in high school it is important to hold onto your true friends because you will definitely need them. Here is something that everyone should know: not everyone is going to like you. That’s okay. It does not mean there is anything wrong with you; it just means you’re human.

Although you’re still learning and exploring, succumbing to peer pressure only adds insult to injury. It’s important for you to stand your ground when feeling that your moral compass is tested. Hence, you mustn’t do anything you’re uncomfortable doing; stepping outside of your comfort-zone is important, but completely disregarding it and tearing it apart isn’t worthwhile. Live in the moment and experience everything wholly and in its entirety. Everyday is a new chance for you to be your unapologetic self. While being liked is nice it’s a fleeting moment of pleasantness, whereas self-doubt always lingers in the back of your mind.

“A writer is the sum of their experiences,” is a quote by a character from the film Stuck in Love; we feel compelled to make one small adjustment: a person is the sum of his or her experiences. If you’re not sure who you are or who you want to be, experience is the key to finding out. What makes us so different from our friends, family, or the neighbors across the street? It is the different choices that we make in our lives that shape and determine our respective futures.

Have you experienced peer pressure as a teen? How do you practise self acceptance? Let us know in the comments.