When I hear the words ‘peer pressure’, it immediately takes me back to secondary school and being told not to give in to peer pressure from older students trying to get us to take drugs or alcohol, those kinds of things. But in reality, I never experienced any type of (direct) peer pressure in school. Quite the opposite, now I’ve grown up, I’m experiencing more peer pressure than ever.
I think peer pressure has been thrown together with words like ‘bullying, alcohol, drugs, smoking’ etc for too long, and in reality, your peers can pressure you into doing a lot of things.
Food : I took part in Veganuary and it was pretty difficult to follow it through anyway, since I am living in a country that doesn’t have much awareness of veganism, but also because of the influence of my friends. If we went out to eat, as in China you share the dishes you order, there was always meat on the table, and I would be encouraged to eat. I told my friends I didn’t want to, because I was taking part in Veganuary, but it wasn’t really accepted.
Alcohol : After I was ill in Chongqing and as part of my half-marathon preparations, I stopped drinking alcohol. I still went to the bar to hang out with my friends, but I would constantly be asked “why are you not drinking?”, “where’s your drink?”.
I guess the only reasoning behind them not accepting my decisions to not eat meat or drink alcohol is that I used to eat meat and I used to drink alcohol before, so surely I can do it again. Unlike because I’ve never smoked, if they offered me a cigarette, they’d know and accept my refusal.
But that way of thinking is totally wrong. People are constantly changing, and we change our minds about things every single day. The closest people around us should respect our decisions, even if they are the exact opposite from what we did yesterday.
I just wish that when I went out, people didn’t try to force me to eat meat, or drink alcohol in the same way that nobody forces me to take drugs or smoke. “Just one bite”, “just one beer” etc shouldn’t be used to try and persuade people to do things they don’t want to do, especially if they’re your friend and they’ve told you the reason why they’re doing what they’re doing.
Just because somebody used to do something, it doesn’t mean they will continue to love and enjoy doing that thing forever. Things happen, people change, so don’t try to force people to change back to their old self if they are busy embracing the new them.