Stepping into college life is new and exciting. Since you’re at an awkward age, the teenage years, you might find it difficult to fit in. That’s when peer pressure comes into the picture. What’s peer pressure? It simply means being influenced by your friends (and peer group) to do things you wouldn’t have done on your own. Peer pressure isn’t a bad thing all the time, it may sometimes lead you to better yourself too. But more often, you end up indulging in a certain activity to get an approval from friends and be accepted into their group, like Jayasimha Kotikanyadanam, a student from Bengaluru did.
“When I started college, I noticed that my batchmates used to smoke and drink. In the beginning, I did not feel any pressure to do that, but during my second year, I started joining them in such revelry. I did realise later that I had given in to peer pressure because I was the only one in that group who wouldn't drink before. It took me four years to graduate because I could not resist peer pressure, and used to be drunk most of the time” says Kotikanyadanam, adding, “Now I am a controlled drinker.”
Looking for validation from your friends, or the people you want to be friends with rather, is a done thing among the youth. But as a reasonable and sane human being, you must draw a line as to how far you can go to seek such validation.
Yashashwini Rathod, another student from Bengaluru shares her story. She says,“Even though I have asthama, I used to hang out with a bunch of smokers. Soon I started smoking too. My stamina decreased so much that I could not even run on the treadmill and I started looking so miserable that my family was worried about me. I realised how I got into the habit of smoking and decided to quit. I feel much better now.”
Why does it happen?
Sunayana Pani a psychologist in the city specially dealing with children and adolescents issues, said, “Teenaged children and young adults are at a vulnerable age and are at a very crucial point in their lives because decisions taken at this point in their lives can affect their future and career, so parents must keep an eye out on the children and the company they keep. Teenagers often indulge in risk taking behaviour when they are with their peers, so parents should keep a constant lookout for their children. If the parents are not able to deal with the teenager’s problems, they must take the teenager for counselling which might help the teenager cope with the issues.”
It’s by choice
But there are people who have the good sense of standing up to peer pressure right from the beginning and not letting other people influence the way they choose to live their lives. Vivek Patil, a student from Pune, says, “In college, we make new groups and new friends. Everything is based on the type of friends we make. There, we see students who are already addicted to drinking and smoking and they try to convince us to try it once and that once could lead to addiction. Seeing our friends smoking, we often think, ‘nothing will happen with just one puff and I should try it’. So I feel sometimes it is peer pressure and sometime it’s a person’s own will. College life is full of stress and is also very important for our future. We make friends — some good, some bad. We fall in love and if it breaks, we may end up taking to drinking. So we have to be careful of the friends we choose. It could impact our whole life. I did get influenced by friends in college but I did not get carried away. Seeing them smoking, I started it too but never let it get the better of me. I used to keep it to one cigarette a week and still keep it to that.”
Ram Reddy, a junior college student from Pune, says, “I have never drunk or smoked in college. A lot of my friends do but I have never tasted alcohol nor had a puff. I have been made fun of because of that but it’s my choice not to drink and smoke and I am happy about it. Now my friends have even stopped asking me anything related to drinking and smoking. I believe it’s a persons choice and peer pressure cannot influence a person.”