it still exists

Peer pressure. We face it all the time. I've done a lot of things I did not want to do as a kid because I did not know or understand this any better. I am sure a lot of you have similar experiences. Funnily, these things don't go away after you become an adult.

For me, it was moving away that allowed me to discover myself. What did I want to do? What did I NOT want to do?

Photo by Pim Myten / Unsplash

I dislike clubs. But going to a pub, watching a game or just shooting the breeze and hanging out socially were things I loved. Except I couldn't do it daily. Over the course of a few years, I finally figured out what makes me tick.

an unexpected question from a student

As a teacher, I get asked questions outside of the health and fitness sphere quite often. I try to capture most of my thoughts on this blog and in case it is not clear, I am no expert in most things. Most of the advice I seem to offer here is primarily for myself and all I am trying to do is listen to my advice more and more.

Recently, a student of mine spoke to me about peer pressure. I'll refer to this person as TP. Normally, I am reluctant to offer any advice on things that are not in my area of expertise but over the past few months, I've started sharing more of my personal thoughts and journey to allow people to make of it what they can. With a genuine question like the one TP had, I could not abstain from it.

why do we complicate things?

TP is part of a fitness community (besides The Quad) and loves the group and the activity that they are a part of. TP is also a successful professional with a full day and what's left over is generally prioritised for family first and then friends next. TP's concern was regarding the social outings that the group did and how they could not make it most of the time due to professional commitments. And the backlash, the snide remarks, the peer pressure and negative vibes that it results in. So, TP had a conundrum - love the group, love the activity, is fine hanging out socially but most times just cannot make it. How does one deal with it?

I've had to figure out similar situations for myself and I thought I could just share my attempts at this. My work-day is rather different from most people and I tend to skip a lot of social events that my friends do. Whether these are just a few of my close friends hanging out at a house (love to do) or go to a bar (dislike. easy to avoid), these don't happen at a time that work for me. But at the same time, I do like hanging out with my friends.

my mistakes

In the beginning (2012-2015), I'd try to do it all. I'd go out with my friends and have a strict curfew on when I'd get out. This works reasonably well if all that's required is to show up. But honestly, I was not having enough fun to do this. After a while, I was just waiting for the clock to hit the mark I had set to get out of there.

My entire mindset was not right for many of these occasions. I did not want to go in the first place but would just give in because, well, peer pressure. And to not be an ass.

Oh you always say no
We haven't seen you in so long
You skipped the last 2 times as well

So, I'd go in a bit annoyed. And just to put attendance. What a stupid way to go about it eh! Inevitably, most people will be late because, well, it is just me who has a curfew while most of them are going to hang out for a significant amount of time. So, after many occasions of me not having fun, me not spending time with people - I realised this was just stupid.

I made two changes in my mindset.

One, I'd go when I feel like it and I'd ensure that I don't skip too often. I'd also try to initiate these events rather than just be invited to them

Two, I won't set a curfew and instead hang out and just have fun. One night of sleep deprivation is not going to kill me.

Starting with just this made a huge difference. I started having a lot more fun. I left when I felt like and not when the clock said I had to or when the place shut down.

Most important realisation I made was these are my friends. They know my idiosyncrasies, my weirdness, how my job works and all of it. So, they should be cool with it as long as I communicate well and as long as I reciprocate. And voila, it was that simple.

where does this leave TP?

It is not that I want to keep talking about my stories. It is just that it took me a while to find clarity. What is that clarity, what is that framework, what are those bad patterns that you want to get out of? Well, that's the part you figure out.

TP had their priorities straight. The professional life dictated that weekday evenings were not available for social gatherings. Sundays were reserved for family. That left a rather narrow window. TP did enjoy the social gatherings with her fitness community - just that it required a lot of alignment for them to be able to make it.

Without peer pressure, it is rather simple. Go when you can. Enjoy it. And when you realise you have not gone in a while (you define what that is), break the pattern and go. It might mean taking an evening off from work or moving the family stuff around.

Men laughing by green valley
Photo by Matheus Ferrero / Unsplash

So, if it is simple without peer pressure, then it is simple with peer pressure. Do the same thing. Don't listen to juvenile idiots. In fact, if they don't get you, then maybe you really don't want to be hanging out with them. In all probability, you will have a tighter relationship or you will move on.

why am I writing about this?

This was a random and weird post to write. I've been debating deleting this and not publishing it for a while. But I decided to just put this out there.

Most of us face the same battles. Some are important. Some are silly. Walk away from silly ones, as much as you can. It takes a while to recognise them but once you do, walk away.