“Tell us about a time you bent to peer pressure”
I can’t think of any better example than the first time I smoked a cigarette.
“Peer pressure, the influence that a peer group, observers or individual exerts that encourages others to change their attitudes, values, or behaviors to conform the group norms.”
That is in no way copied from this Wikipedia page. Oh alright, you got me.
I pride myself on being a head strong person, at least I am now. Although there was a time when I was a shy, demure; wouldn’t say boo to a goose type of kid. The goose would surely attack you if you startled it, and I’m not sure if scaring fowl into attacking you had ever been a pastime for British children but never-the-less; at this time of my life I was in no position to entertain the idea.
Well let’s just put goose scaring to one side for a moment and get back to how peer pressure got me to try my first taste of nicotine and at that time, my first taste of conceived coolness and rebellion.
First, imagine if you will that as a child I was not the sun-kissed bronzed Adonis, fair of cheek and pure of heart that you may know me as. Yes, alright I know there’s very little imagination required for that image.
At school, I was a short, weedy looking, nerdy ginger kid with glasses. I always did my homework and my report card that never said anything worse than ‘easily distracted’.
I wouldn’t say I was brutally bullied, not compared to what others may have suffered, but I was certainly the butt of a fair amount of jokes and insults, and by the last year of school my ego and self-confidence had plummeted, as many people in a similar position may recognise.
This isn’t intended as a woe-is-me post, I am only telling you these things to give some context to what is to follow.
There was a place where the bad kids, the smokers and the kisser’s hung out, as every school does. These were the cool kids, the rude kids, the kids who weren’t as morbidly afraid of detention as I was. Kids who ordinarily I would not have the courage to walk closely by let alone stand with them for any prolonged period, and quite honestly if it wasn’t for a mate I was hanging around with, I would have been nowhere near there at that point either.
Despite the rather large and what will end up to be a disappointingly misleading pre-amble, the actual event was fairly… ummm well, uneventful. My mate walked up to them, he had spoken to them before, which is something I probably held with a little too much awe at the time. They recognized him spoke to him, and better still they didn’t immediately expel me from the group.
Had I been accepted? I was stood with them and they weren’t taking the piss out of me, or if they were it was way above my head.
Suddenly there was a cigarette being held out in front of me. It wasn’t just a cigarette though; it was the golden doorway to a land where people would think I was cool. After all, I had always assumed that i was right at the back of the queue when they were dishing out cool and popularity. This was my chance to change all that.
I took the cigarette, held it to my lips and inhaled. I didn’t cough, or splutter as many a teen film would have you believe was mandatory for all first time smokers. I do remember the taste though. The smell of cigarettes which had been relatively alluring up until now was in my mouth and the taste was much worse than I expected.
Although this taste was mitigated by the comments I was getting from the other kids. Comments like being a rebel, and the bad boy etc. Comments which wouldn’t hold their weight now were fluffing my ego and for the first time in my life I felt confident. I had that awful taste of cigarettes in my mouth for the rest of the afternoon, as a little reminder that for a brief period at list I stood with the cool kids and survived.
This peer pressure wasn’t verbal, they never asked me to smoke, they certainly didn’t physically make me, yet the result was I did something I wouldn’t have done normally and in this case it wasn’t good. Especially, as this one incident started me off on a smoking habit that continued for the next ten years. It cost me huge amounts of money, and added about 10 years on to my age from a health perspective.
Though taking the event for what it was, it was a highlight of my younger years. My first day of rebelliousness, the first day I didn’t do everything that was expected of me.
Of course, this wasn’t the only time I bent to peer pressure, there are many similar stories but we can save those for another day.
So, there you go. That’s the time I bowed to peer pressure and smoked. The day that a short, weedy looking, nerdy ginger kid with glasses, that always did his homework tasted, even if only for a few minutes what it was like to be cool and rebellious.
I’d like to know about times that you caved in to peer pressure. What effect did it have on your life for better or for worse?