All Articles Tagged "peer pressure"
Common was recently interviewed for O Magazine. In the interview, like in his memoir One Day It’ll All Make Sense, Common spoke about how he learned how to speak up for himself. In relationships, in work or about his own abilities, Common took a backseat and let other people make decisions for him, even if they didn’t feel right in the moment. He provided this example of a time when he’d let his girlfriend decide for him:
For example, I like to go to church on New Year’s Eve—to spend that time with God. My ex would always want me to go somewhere with her instead, and when I did, I’d regret it. Now I’ll just say to a woman I’m dating, “I’m going to church—and I’ll meet you right after.”
(Just in case you were wondering that ex he’s talking about is Erykah Badu– but that’s neither here nor there.) Immediately, after I read it, I thought, Yo that exact same thing [almost] happened to me. A couple of years ago, I was in what can best be described as a long distance relationship. I was in school in Missouri. He worked in Illinois. And his parents, whom he was visiting for the holidays, lived in Wisconsin. Needless to say, the time we got to spend with one another was few and far between. But somehow, our schedules aligned and we made arrangements to see each other on New Year’s Eve. He was going to be in Indianapolis. I was going to be in Indianapolis, it would work. Except, the precious hours we’d spend together would have to be cut short because I was planning on going to church. Like Common, being in church on New Year’s Eve is important to me. I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year than thanking God for bringing you through the past year and asking Him to bless the upcoming one. There’s a power in that, which I don’t take lightly. So, as much as I wanted to see my friend as soon as he got into town, he’d have to wait a couple of hours. I did invite him to church. He declined. Cool, no problem.
It wasn’t until I discussed my plans with others that I started to rethink them. The day before my friend was supposed to come into town, my family and I were over my aunt’s house eating, lounging chatting it up. The maternal side of my family is Jamaican. I say that to illustrate the type of interactions we have. The conversation is open and brutally honest. American niceties and political correctness are thrown out the window. People will ask you probing questions, offend you out of love and just generally get in your business. Nothing is taboo…nothing. So, I wasn’t surprised when my aunt asked, with a smirk and batted eyelashes, what my friend and I were doing for New Year’s Eve. I told her, we were meeting up after I got out of church. My aunt got quiet and I could see her thinking about what she was going to say next. When she finally did speak, she asked me: “Well, don’t you think you can miss church since he’s coming all this way to see you?”
And for a minute, I thought about it. Was it wrong to make him wait an additional two hours, after he’d just driven 3 to spend time with me? Was I being inconsiderate? But no sooner, than the thought crossed my mind, I heard God’s voice. “This boy will disappoint you. He’ll let you down. I’ll always be there for you.” Well there you have it. Before my aunt had even finished speaking, I had my answer. I told her, “Yeah, I’m still going to go to church.” She shrugged and said ok, still not quite convinced I was making the right decision. But I knew God’s voice was right. I couldn’t put my faith in this or any man. My friend didn’t bring me through the past year, God did. And if I had a crystal ball, I would have seen two years later, he wouldn’t hold the same position in my affections. But God would. How stupid would I have looked choosing someone who could and would leave me over someone who’s never forgotten nor forsaken me?
I went to church and met up with him later, guilt free.
A couple of days after New Year’s, my aunt called me and apologized for suggesting that I skip church to hang out with my friend. She told me, after thinking about it, she realized she was wrong and I’d made the right decision. I knew she’d come around. And though I was happy she agreed with the decision, I didn’t need her approval. I already had directions from myself and a higher power.
But as Common and my other experiences have illustrated, it’s not hard to bend and compromise our core beliefs in life and love. A lot of us spend so much time trying to please others, we forget to honor ourselves and more importantly the higher powers we believe in. That’s dangerous. It’s an age-old lesson, but one that bears repeating: When you know something is right, don’t allow anyone, not a love interest, a trusted family member, not even yourself, to talk you out of your decision.
Most women have a girl crush (or two or three). This is basically a woman whom they may or may not know personally, but admire and who inspires them to do better or achieve certain things. That would be a healthy girl crush. On the other hand, there are women who have shallow admiration for other ladies, perhaps because of their physical beauty or material things, who let that fondness cause them to act all out of character in hopes of winning over their affection and being seen as valuable in their eyes. That, my friends, is not a good look.
I didn’t think about this until recently when a group of girls and I were hanging out again over a few days. Some of us are really close, others are more associates or distant friends, and some of us were meeting and chilling with each other for the first time. That right there is always an interesting dynamic, as bad things tend to happen when too many women get together. That sounds stereotypical, but any girl who has tried to hang out in a group of three or more for any extended period of time knows how much truth there is to that statement.
Anyway, as we were hanging, the conversation naturally turned to how is so-and-so and where is so-and-so, I began to notice that the way certain people talked about friends who weren’t out with us that night wasn’t much different from the disgusted tone used to describe other people we’re not even cool with. That’s when I started to notice there was a mean-girl element to the conversation. Because I wasn’t really up on all the perceived drama with certain people, I kept quiet and just observed the dynamic, which made my close friend ask me if everything was alright later that evening. I told her, frankly, I thought some people were being plain hateful and fake, and she reminded me that this tends to happen when some people in the crew get around select others and I thought back on other occasions where the same thing tended to happen. She was right, but what I still didn’t understand was how the mere presence of one friend would suddenly make you talk about another like a dog, yet when said influencer wasn’t around, your demeanor was totally different.
After a couple days passed and the behavior continued, in addition to more clique-like activity with different segments of friends breaking off from the larger group and even acting a little funny toward everyone else, I needed an explanation. That’s when one of my friends broke it down for me: Some of these girls were suffering from thirsty girl crushes. Initially, I laughed, but as she explained the coined statement I totally got it. Basically, the issue for some of the women is they had become friends with their girl crushes, which to them felt like some sort of honor. And in order to maintain that honor and sort of prove themselves to the crush, they felt like they always had to conform to certain behavior and even impress their crush in certain ways, which unfortunately was usually dogging other people, often other people who are some variation of a friend to them.
I know, it’s not totally mind-blowing, but more so scary. I’ve been known to have some jealous tendencies and I have a nasty habit of comparing myself to other people. But I realize that no matter how much of a crush I may have on another woman who has some qualities about her that I like, I’ve never allowed that to push me to do shady things that deep down I wasn’t comfortable with or that were disrespectful toward other people. Sure, I’ve gotten caught up in the peer pressure of gossip culture, but not to impress the next chick with the best joke or make someone like me more. I was usually just running my mouth way too much and letting emotions get the best of me.
What was most unfortunate about this realization was knowing that the reason my friend could pinpoint the issue with these girls was because she was a victim herself. Earlier this year, she’d told me about some behavior with the same ladies that really shocked me and was totally out of character for the person I’d known for seven years or so. And as she talked about these other girls I knew she was talking about herself as well and how easily she’d allowed herself to be influenced by negativity in order to fit in with these girls, some of which were the “popular” girls, or the cute girls, or the party girls, or whatever superficial label we can apply that causes people to want to be or at least be around these types of women. What was even more frustrating was that despite some women not even living in the same city as one another, just a few hours in the presence of these unworthy admirers caused them to become totally different people than they were in their respective environments. At some point, this could have been me, and it might have been in the past, but as I looked at some of the ugly behavior coming from some of these pretty women I just remember sitting and thinking, bottom line, I’m not impressed and I don’t understand why you are either.
Nothing’s wrong with a healthy girl crush and admiration is cool. But when the people you look up to have you doing things out of character and jeopardizing your real relationships, it’s time to pump the brakes.
Have you ever let your admiration for someone influence you to do things that were out of character?
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We can all make a compelling argument for why we SHOULD have sex. After all, it’s fun, it feels good and is good for you, and it’s the most intimate way you can share yourself and your love with your partner. But there is a flip side to that frisky coin, and varying attitudes towards sex show that there are plenty of reasons why you should hold off on doing the do. If you’re on the fence on whether or not you should have sex with a new guy, or for the first time ever, here are some things to consider before going all the way.
By La Truly
The other day, I had a conversation with my sister that opened my eyes to my own blaring stupidity which could have cost me my life. I was telling her about a guy I once met randomly, had absolutely nothing in common with – except purely animated physical attraction, but clung to him because he was fun and I didn’t want to be lonely. Our values didn’t parallel one another and our goals were… well, I knew mine… I never really got around to asking (or really caring) what his were. Things were light, fun and great. Then, this one particular day he decided to press the issue of unprotected sex. His argument for it included the following quotables:
“Well, you know I stopped messin’ with other people for you.”
“I get tested.”
“If you’re saying you want to be with me but you don’t want to have sex with me without a condom I feel like you’re saying there’s something wrong with me.”
“It just feels better without a condom.”
“I feel like you’re saying you don’t trust me.”
How did I tell him that HECK NO, I really didn’t trust him but I wanted him around? Should I just go ahead and take him at his word? He said he was clean and he wouldn’t lie to me…would he?
I knew that I never really trusted him because of the ladies’ man I knew him to be and his absolute love of sex. I knew that he lied to me constantly about other women, whether by omission or not. I knew that he was incapable of being completely faithful. I knew that he was trying to turn the whole situation around on me, as if my forethought for my own health was totally absurd and a slap in the face to him.
He ended up leaving promptly after I simply refused to answer him. My being speechless was more a product of bewilderment than defiance. And I have to admit, after he left I felt lonely, glad and stupid all at once. Lonely, obviously because he had left me alone and I knew that we would never recover our carefree relationship. Glad, because I had not allowed his incessant pressure to make me do something that very well could have changed my life for the worst. And I felt stupid because although I refused unprotected sex, I did so without assertively telling him exactly what I thought of him and his lowdown tactics. I despised the way he tried to make me feel guilty, totally disregarding my concerns. No, I didn’t trust him but I felt horrible even THINKING to tell him that. Why was I so worried about his feelings? If he had stayed another moment, would I have given in? How strong a woman was I really? My mind was reeling with thoughts, questions and ‘What ifs?’
In reflectively discussing the situation with my sister many months later, she said something deep about it all:
“Men make decisions about women all the time without one thought for their feelings. They’ll end a relationship for any reason when they get ready and move on without caring. Why do we, as women, tiptoe around, trying to be careful and spare men’s feelings when they don’t care to do the same for us?”
That hit me with such force. I had dodged a bullet through ‘just enough’ willpower, not through assertive ‘protect-myself-by-any-means-necessary’ force. I didn’t lay out the facts for him: That I knew he couldn’t possibly ‘settle down,’ that he was a liar and a manipulator and that I had so foolishly tried to override all of those facts for fear of losing his carefree companionship. I had been a fool. I had been a fool blessed that he left when he did. Blessed that the “relationship” ended where it did. Blessed that I could see my obvious weaknesses and begin to apply strength in those areas.
Since then I’ve been a whole lot less concerned with being alone. Self-improvement has occupied that time and space and I’ve learned one valuable lesson:
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Never put up with being bullied or ‘guilted’ into a relationship decision because you’re afraid of being alone. Those moments of weakness will chip away at your self-worth, your ability to make clear choices and even at your health.
If a man cannot respect my timing, my decisions and my values when it comes to MY body, he is not the man for me. I didn’t value myself enough to assert those points back then, but now… Honey, listen… they know from the gate so they can never say that I didn’t make it clear.
AIDS and other STDs are real and they are singlehandedly one of the biggest killers of our community. I have no desire to be a careless victim. In my opinion, it’s better to be safe, lonely and living than to be sorry, lied-to and dying. And I’ve got so much to live for.
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If other inner-city school districts are anything like the one I witness several days out of the week, it’s understandable why many parents are opting out of the education system completely for an opportunity to educate their children a variety of curriculum in the safety of their own home. More students are in the hallways than in the classroom nowadays (and that’s if they even bother coming to school at all). Political power plays leave educators and supporting staff who are actually invested in students unmotivated, powerless and in the worst case, jobless. Confusion and competition at the top of the education chain leads to a chaotic learning environment where students often fall at the losing end.
In my own childhood I had the chance to be both a student of a catholic school for 10 years (grades Pre-K to eight) and a high school student at a small magnet school in Philadelphia whose curriculum focused on college preparation and world relations. I often take for granted the advantage that having a solid, well-rounded basic education gave me. As a parent, you’d like to believe that everyday you’re sending your child to a place where for seven to eight hours a day they’re gaining the skills necessary to be critical thinkers and competitive players in the real world. Unfortunately, with all of the stories of sexual assault and molestation, violence and bullying, I often wonder how much learning is actually being achieved. We all know that children thrive on routine and structure, so I’m also troubled by the idea that many children who are already coming from unstable family situations can no longer find security and safety in the “typical school day.”
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Are you someone who moves from one unhappy relationship to another? Most likely that’s because you got into the relationship for the wrong reasons. Relationships and marriage are admirable goals for anyone to strive towards but there are many reasons why people may decide to engage in relationships for all the wrong reasons. Relationships should bloom from a mutual love and respect between two people and should not be influenced by outside parties, peer pressure or to fill a void in your life. Before you jump into another relationship, look at these 9 red flags that might help you avoid unhealthy relationships in the future.