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Peer Pressured: Making Intentional Decisions When Faced with Social Influence

By Asha Ellison on 01/23/2018 | General

When I think of all the things that have significantly impacted my life, peer pressure is at the bottom of the list. 

I have always been a pretty strong-minded and self-sufficient person but, when I initially sat down to think about just how little an impact peer pressure has had on my life, it was a little alarming. 

“Surely, this can’t be normal,” I thought to myself.

Then, I remembered all the strong women and solid role models I’ve had in my life and, suddenly, it all made sense. I’ve had women teaching me and showing me that making decisions that honor my convictions and morals is among the most powerful thing I could ever do. Additionally, these women taught me I didn’t have to consider or entertain the opinions of others to make my own choices.

Peer pressure, a feeling caused by peer and social influence to look a certain way, possess certain things, or behave a certain way for favorable social status or popularity, affects each of us at some point in life. The reason peer pressure hasn’t significantly affected my life is because I made a choice against it. At the end of the day, that is a choice each of us has: submit to the status quo or to decide how we want to look and live for ourselves. I’ve always believed in the power of intentional decision making more than I’ve believed in submitting to social pressure. 

Because I was taught independent intentionality (and because I watched my older siblings get in enough trouble as teenagers), the likelihood for me to act impulsively, irrationally, or to just do something because other kids were doing it, was virtually eliminated. 

Thanks to the guidance of my mother, grandmother, teachers and coaches, I learned at an early age that intentionality of my actions is much more powerful than the influence of those around me.  I knew, if I made any decisions, they had to be deliberate, done on purpose, and calculated. I had to weigh the pros and cons of my actions; I had to always consider the consequences. 

This is why programs like Girls on the Run are so important. Each season, girls complete lessons that teach and reiterate making healthy choices like “choosing to stand up for myself and my values, choosing to try and make healthy choices, choosing to do the best I can, choosing to be accountable to myself and others, and choosing to celebrate what makes me unique!” Lessons are structured to give girls real-life scenarios and think through how they could react. This team environment and these lessons work - a recent independent study found that 97% of participants said they learned critical life skills, including intentional decision making, through Girls on the Run.

When it comes to reducing the negative impact of peer pressure, early childhood guidance is important. Parents, guardians, teachers, coaches, and mentors, alike, all can help shape a girl’s life when it comes to making intentional decisions. 

If we’re going to set our girls up for anything, let’s make we are setting them up for success. Cheers to raising confident girls who grow into strong women who feel empowered by making positive, healthy choices for themselves – without the pressure of those around them.

 

Asha Ellison

Author

Asha is the Copywriter/Communications Coordinator for Girls on the Run International where she works to keep the GOTR world connected. Asha, also a licensed mental health professional, believes in teaching girls (she has 5 nieces!) that the power of their dreams exists without bounds or limitations. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, creating motivational videos, and eating too many macarons!

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