Saying No to Peer-Pressure
I was thinking about my interactions with one of the Professors at the University of Toronto, Jim Clarke. I would ask his advice about which courses do I have to do in the next semester? I was deeply contemplating recently on his response, ‘You do not have to do any course. You should do what you want to do.’
Unfortunately, we spend a big portion of our lives just doing things that we have to do. The main justification for our behaviors is always an external cause i.e. the cost of living, the standard of living that we have to sustain and all the bills that we have to pay.
While there is no question that this is the reality of this life, but are we sure that that is the only reality? Is it possible that we are living a life that is expensive, hard and difficult to sustain, because somehow unconsciously that is what we are choosing for ourselves.
When Steve Jobs said in his speech, that do not spend your life living someone else’s dreams, I could never really resonate with it. For me, it was always about the next upcoming expense. If it was not the expense, it was the thought that what I want to do is only truly achievable under certain set scenarios where I need to belong. If I did not have access to certain facilities, certain environments, certain technologies, my dreams would never be fulfilled anyways.
But again, are we just somehow justifying everything because we are too timid to accept that we are choosing this reality?
The real question is that why are we scared? Is it Peer-Pressure, or is it Internal Pressure?
Is it all the things that we truly need that are making our lives more complex, is it what we want, or is it that we are only following a mirage of someone else’s shadow?
We need to spend more time answering these questions and to confront our own realities.
I was narrating a story to someone the other day. Basically, in the South-Asian culture that I come from, there is huge emphasis on how one dresses. I was thinking about one lady who always wore an elegant white Shalwar Kameez to all the events. One day I asked her that how does she find the courage to do so, when pretty much I spend a good few hours just fretting about what to wear before every event. She responded that she does not really care what others think.
Another notion in the South Asian community is that at any event no one shows up before 2 hours of the invited time. And yet, there are folks about whom one always hears that, ‘At their place, everyone has to show up on time.’
How are these folks capable of by-passing the societal pressures? Why do they not care?
Why is it that we are consuming a major portion of our youth and adulthoods in just following the norms, rather than ‘Building the New Norm.’
Whichever career or non-career persona one conforms to, we all have challenges at all levels.
It is important to retain our learnings from Covid-19, about how transient and broken both this world and our lives are. It is important to recognize that at the end of the day, we are all isolated and yet completely interconnected. So, why are we succumbing to the pressures of the world, which was never completely or permanently ours to begin with?
Let’s take that next step to stop saying yes to Peer-Pressure. If you are not happy in your current circumstance, do not just drag yourself, because of what will people say or because you have no choice. If you think you will be an outlier, then let it be. You are setting the new trend. If you do not believe in something, you do not have to live with it.
The world starts at your footsteps and not at how others view your reality.