They Say It All
They say you gotta cuss; you gotta play rough.
Your attitude’s just not cool enough.
They say go bold; gotta strut your stuff.
Your modest garb ain’t cool enough.
They say, “Being ‘You’, is a huge drawback”.
It’ll only earn you a lot of flack.
They say, ‘We got your back’;
‘We’ll cut you some slack’.
If you walk their walk;
And talk their talk.
And tick to their tock;
And click to their clock.
They say, ‘Follow the herd’;
‘Ain’t easy being a free bird’.
They say theirs is the only word;
So tag on; can’t risk being unheard.
They say, ‘Try to blend; stay on trend’.
‘Bend backwards or simply pretend’.
They say, ‘Ain’t any good if we do not commend’.
You need them all to help you ascend.
Now all you care is what they’ll say.
Throughout your life, they’ll have their way.
You need their approval to make your day.
Striving away just to hear, ‘Yes you may!’
You’ll do just fine staying true to yourself.
You’re not another trophy upon their shelf.
Tell them, ‘My coolest version is being myself’.
“I’d rather be ‘Me’, than your second best self”.
Are we really hardwired to conform to the dictates of an imposing crowd? Is our individual trace not strong enough to assert itself? Weren’t we born distinct with our inherent qualities and exceptional talents? Why then do we fall prey to social pressure? Why do we feel the need to fit in?
Social pressure or peer pressure isn’t just something that kids or teenagers deal with, it’s something that even adults struggle with. There’s a strange longing in all of us to belong. We want to be part of a group where everyone finds us acceptable and gives us that much needed sense of security. It’s not strange then to see to what extent people are willing to go to match up to the standards of others. They often end up completely stamping out their own individuality and losing all sense of self.
In schools and universities one can easily see how peer pressure works; it’s an explicit model of how the world functions at large. We have the popular kids groups, the Jocks, Preppies, Goths, Emo, Nerds….there are probably more and the existing groups might evolve further. You need to tune into the attitude, behavioral patterns and values of a particular group if you want to share the label. It’s a real challenge and kids are sometimes willing to do anything to get accepted. We might shrug off this issue as something that only affects insecure and immature minds but we give in to social pressure too more often than we would like to admit to.
The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the words we use and even the people we associate with are sometimes a result of the influence of society. People dress to conform to the expectations of others or simply because it’s the ‘In Thing’. It might not be the most comfortable or decent apparel but it gets them within the circle and saves them being treated as a social misfit. We even end up altering our opinions based on what’s trending. Social conformity is definitely not just something that defines our physical identity but it works deeper to displace our beliefs, value system and ingrained ideologies.
It’s really easy to keep talking about believing in yourself and doing the right thing but it’s only a great deal of persistent effort that can help us retain our individuality. We were not born to conform to other individuals, there is more to our existence. We are stronger only by our convictions and faith; designed to stand our ground and shine out with our own unique stature in this world.
Do you find social pressure alarming? Did you face any peer pressure challenges at school or work? Do share your thoughts.