How do you want your life to look? How do you imagine the bigger picture? More importantly, how do you imagine the daily grind? Some people have very clear pictures of their dreams. For others, it’s less tangible and more vague. When our own pictures are muddy and unclear, it can be easier for us to align ourselves to the dreams of someone else, someone whose picture is vivid and bright.
Peer pressure can derail our dreams in many ways. Here are some of the ways in which peer pressure can puncture dreams and how you can protect them.
It puts the focus on the contest, rather than contentment
Peer pressure is natural. We compare ourselves at every level to our peer group. How quickly do we learn to walk and talk? How successful are we at school, at work and romantically? All of this information is stacked up against our peers. It’s not inherently wrong to compare people in this way but issues arise when people lose themselves in this game of comparisons and forget that the recipe for lasting happiness lies somewhere beyond all of this arbitrary nonsense. Peer pressure puts our focus solely on the contest, on competition, rather than on contentment. It pulls your focus from what makes you happy and what you enjoy onto what you ‘should’ enjoy, onto what the majority find satisfying.
It fits life into a cloying time frame
Lots of people freak out when they hit ages like 18, 21, 25, 30, 40, 50, the milestone ages. Is this because of the number? A number is just an arbitrary thing after all. Or, is it because we associate success, progress and achievement with these numbers? If you are 18 and unpopular, have you failed at being a teenager? If you are 30 and childless, is life over? If you are 40 and unhappy in your career, is it game over? Lots of people think like this and this line of thinking makes people miserable. Most of us know that in reality, despite our best laid plans, life has a way of happening regardless. Sometimes it brings the good and other times it brings the bad but trying to rush life into a rigid time frame disrupts the organic flow and progression of your own life. Trying to keep up with the supposed successes and milestones of others can force us into a pace of life that is not our own.
It can cause you to ditch positive habits
Through peer pressure, people are able to regulate one another’s behaviour. If you are susceptible to this regulation, you may find that you drop habits that are very positive and embrace habits that are designed to make you fit into the round hole.
For instance, you might not be a Facebook person and you might be surrounded by a crowd who are forever on Facebook and who mock you for not being part of it. Out of desperation, you may find yourself turning to the social network, because that’s what everyone else is doing. It may impact the way you dress, the jobs you apply for, the hours you work, the type of partner you seek and the way that you eat.
Most people like to view themselves as above the influence of peer pressure but most of us are vulnerable to it, even in small, seemingly insignificant ways.
Peer pressure can tell you that your dreams aren’t possible
Whatever your dreams and goals are, they are yours alone. Following the crowd can lead you away from what you want in life. Sometimes, we do need to go with the tide in order to muster the strength to swim upstream but to turn your back on your goals completely may be because others are telling you to give up or that you are wasting your time. How do they know? Misery loves company and when someone has failed themselves, they love nothing more than to see someone else fail too.
Peer pressure can make you satisfied with someone else’s life rather than your own
I believe we all know on some level what makes us happy, even if we become disconnected from that. You might find that your life looks great from the outside, but it doesn’t feel good within. This is a sign that you are living to impress others or for others. The happiest life may not always look the best or the brightest, but feelings cannot be measured or calculated in the manner in which we measure many other things.
Is peer pressure lurking in your life? Protect your dreams by:
- Focusing on contentment, not the contest;
- Relax your time constraints – don’t try to cram everything in at once;
- Maintain positive habits;
- Surround yourself with positive, life-affirming and supportive people;
- Check that life feels good and not just that it looks good to others;
- Reflect regularly on what you are doing and why. Are you doing it for you or for others?
All my love