This I Believe

Laurelin - Lake Oswego, Oregon
Entered on January 9, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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What’s Right and What’s Popular

I’ve been a victim of peer pressure; I’ve instigated it, too. It’s a part of growing up, and as far as I know it’s inevitable. It started at a young age for me. In kindergarten I’d have a friend whisper to me, “Hey, take an extra Chewy candy bar with me.” In junior high I’d tell everyone to put gum into their mouths when choir class began, just to ensure a miserable class period for the teacher. In high school, the pressures became more apparent, and far more stupid. Suddenly, friends were asking friends to drink alcohol with them, or to fight some kids after school, and none of it made sense. I didn’t understand how the minimal pressures in the past could escalate into a world where temptation was present every day. I felt stuck for a good year in high school, not knowing if I should go along with these new pressures, or continue to let them pass me by. Eventually I saw a sign hanging in one of my family friend’s house. The sign said, “What’s right isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.”

I began brainstorming specific examples of this saying. I found past historical events that expressed this saying. Martin Luther King’s battle for racial equality was not popular at first. He went through persecution and harassment for his beliefs, but these same beliefs eventually broadened our country’s perspective of what was right. I thought about a present day example: rap music. In general, mainstream rap is degrading. I tend to laugh at people who play songs like “Pimp Get Chose,” or “Dirty Money,” but songs like that are popular all the same. I see people taking up jobs for the money and not for the love of what they’re doing. Stockbrokers, salesmen, people who sit in cubicles all day, are they truly happy? It’s a waste of human life to perform a job every day if they it, and it’s wrong to do that job just for the money. But people are pressured by people to succeed at all levels, and this won’t change. Any sort of pressure will continue to be expressed by human beings as long as we still exist, but whether or not people choose to follow these pressures is what makes all the difference.

I’m not trying to pose myself as some sort of “pressure guru” because I have crumbled under pressure many times. However, I feel like a sort of calmness has been instilled in me, because I have a desire to stray away from the popularities that are wrong, and to entangle myself around positive influences that help me discover who I want to be. Pressures are all around. Don’t feel pressured into accepting it.