The Positives of Peer Pressure

“If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?" Parents have asked this question since the beginning of time. It’s a rhetorical question for all kids to step back and think about their actions before they blindly follow their friends’ lead. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve come to realize the difference between right and wrong, but that doesn’t mean peer pressure isn’t still a concern in our lives.

Have you ever considered that peer pressure could be a good thing? When we enter into our college years, our new groups of friends can pressure us into experiencing new things. These experiences can lead to some of the best memories. 

As college students, we know how to say no to things that make us uncomfortable and to take our limitations and gut feelings into consideration. My college friends ask if I want to do a random day trip somewhere or  try out a new fitness class -- these are things I might have said no to before. These are things that require me to step out of my comfort zone, which can be a scary thing. Allowing myself to say yes and to give in to this positive form of peer pressure has let me grow and make some of my favorite memories. 

Try new things 

It’s normal to get comfortable in our routines. However, meeting new people in college can expose you to different backgrounds, showing you new interests. 

Even though I'm an adventurous person, I still have self-esteem issues.  My college friends are the ones who helped me overcome some of those issues. For example, I was never certain in myself and my abilities. The University of Florida is a school filled with bright and motivated people and at times, it made me question my abilities. My college friends that were motivated and capable of success reminded me that I was also capable of success.

My friends encouraged me to try new things, like mock trial and public speaking. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, helping me leave behind the shy and anxious freshman I once was, to become the more outgoing person I am now.

Be open to different ways of viewing the world 

I’m from South Florida, so I’ve always been surrounded, I had by a very diverse group of people. However, coming to UF allowed me to stop and see the world from new perspectives. Attending college has encouraged me to introduce my new friends to different cultures and aspects of myself I may not have thought about before.

A few people I’ve met Gainesville had never been friends with a Jewish person before, and they were interested in learning about my religion and culture. It was nice to meet people who were willing to ask me questions, understand and learn about my religion. I’m Hispanic, so it was cool to be able to have my roommates try Ecuadorian food that my mom would send back with me after going home for breaks.

I was able to introduce my friends to new foods and offer them a different view of the world. I also felt pride in my own identity and felt more connected to my background. I have also been able to learn about other religions and cultures from the friends I have made in Gainesville, and I’m so thankful for the people I have met who have assisted me in learning new things about the world.

I know it’s easy to say no to new and sometimes scary things, but by embracing new opportunities, I have allowed myself to grow as a person. Because of the people I have chosen to surround myself with in college, I have learned to put myself out there and be confident in myself. I have studied abroad, gotten over toxic relationships and did something as small as picking up a new workout routine because I allowed myself to be peer pressured in the most positive way.

In college, you get to know yourself and your limitations. However, the only way to know you don’t like something is to try it. We know ourselves, so this isn’t to say that we have to say yes to everything, but if something piques your interest, as long as you feel safe, there is nothing wrong with feeling a bit uncomfortable at first and getting out of your comfort zone. So, jump off that metaphorical bridge and into new experiences.