As you seek to be a friend to others, do not compromise your standards. If your friends urge you to do things that are wrong, be the one to stand for the right, even if you stand alone. You may need to find other friends who will support you in keeping the commandments. Seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost as you make these choices. “For the Strength of Youth”
Admittedly, as a kid, I really only thought peer pressure applied to teenagers. I’d felt a little peer pressure as a kid, but growing up with only a handful of LDS friends in a large Texas high school created quite a sense of identity for me.
I countered derogatory questions about the Church without flinching. I declined dates before I was 16 (this basically meant no high school homecoming or prom for me). I didn’t have to turn down party invitations because friends and others knew it wasn’t my kind of party.
I felt like I sailed through peer pressure mostly unscathed and moved on to adulting.
I’ve felt more peer pressure as an adult than I ever did as a kid. Here are two, of many, examples of peer pressure while adulting.
College Peer Pressure—My First Keg Party Invitation
Like I mentioned, my high school friends knew keg parties weren’t my scene after I declined in a testing-the-water conversation. Imagine my surprise when I faced my first real keg party invitation and accompanying peer pressure seven months after my mission! I still think that’s so funny.
Between BYU semesters, I took an intensive Arabic course during a summer session at the University of Utah. I jumped at the chance to earn a year’s credit in two months. A renown Egyptian professor taught the class with a wonderful Iraqi teaching assistant. Students flocked to the class from around the country.
It didn’t take long on the first day for me to realize it wasn’t a BYU class. I felt immediately drawn to another girl, Rochelle. Turned out that we were the only LDS students in the class and she’d recently returned from a mission, too.
Some of the more experienced, extroverted guys in the class decided to host weekend parties for members of the class. They sincerely invited us to attend. We quickly explained the Word of Wisdom to incredulous listeners. It seemed like everyone attended every party and we were the only ones not going. On Mondays, we’d ask how their weekend was and joked that we could remember all of ours. They couldn’t believe that we really didn’t drink and tossed us the weekly “coming to the party?” with all the ensuring “whats” and “that’s crazy.”
Ultimately, we didn’t mind. Neither one of us needed validation through group participation. By resisting the peer pressure together, Rochelle and I forged a lasting bond that continues to this day.
Peer Pressure at Work—Las Vegas “Team Building” Retreat
About five years into my marriage, I took a job in a competitor hospital system’s finance department after they hired my boss, who I really enjoyed working with, and he offered me a salary package I couldn’t refuse. At our first department staff meeting, I felt a really weird tension. I couldn’t identify it, but I felt it every time I walked out of my office.
I’d loved my previous coworkers and thought I might just be feeling anxiety about a whole new set of faces. Also, I noticed weird inconsistencies among the staff duties and felt grateful that I was my own department reporting to the Assistant Director of Finance, my old boss.
I love getting to know people, so set about doing that. I listened and watched. Within a short time, I could clearly tell that the darling, vivacious, wife-of-a-preacher accounting clerk and the gregarious, married, father of two Director of Finance was intimately acquainted. I’d just seen an office affair break up the marriage of my boss. It created some drama in the workplace. I became wary.
One bizarre day, the Director of Finance called me into his office. Also in attendance were the darling accounting clerk (I really liked her) and my boss, Assistant Finance Director. I entered hesitantly and sunk into a chair.
They continued their jovial conversation while I wondered why I was summoned. Finally, the Director casually mentioned fun weekend plans in Vegas he’d been considering and invited us to go with him. Everyone turned to look at me, so obviously they’d heard about the plans before my arrival.
“Who all is invited?” Long pause.
Finance Director slowly answered that he’d conceived it as a team-building retreat for us four team members. I looked at my boss. Huh?
Within two months, the office knew my moral standards. The guys stopped swearing around me after laughing at my initially shocked expressions. They’d stopped the crude jokes. They started treating the women in the office with more respect because I’d called them out on their behavior.
In that moment of invitation, a whole lot of realizations flooded over me. My presence would legitimize the weekend. But what else was expected of me?
I immediately declined with the Holy Ghost’s warning sirens going off in my head.
“Oh, Delisa, come on, it will be so fun!” “I’ll pay for your whole trip!” “I’ve wanted to get to know you better.” “If you don’t go, we won’t go.” “You have to go!!”
I reiterated that I would not go on the intended retreat without my husband and didn’t feel comfortable accompanying them anyway. I walked out the office.
They didn’t go on the team-building retreat.
Within a couple of weeks, I started a new job.
Peer Pressure at Church
Though I felt some desire to feel included in the Arabic class group and wanted to be respected and liked by my coworkers, the peer pressure they exerted on me felt easy to deflect. I made decisions long ago about how to answer those kinds of questions should they arise.
But what about peer pressure at church? This feels like a different animal because we’ve all made the same covenants. I’ve learned that the Lord grants us amazing latitude in covenant adherence and it’s up to the individual and the Lord to define that relationship.
Even so, the ways I honor covenants are often different from the ways other people do—from Sabbath Day observance to wearing the temple garment to visiting teaching to prayerful relationships with God. I have learned so much about possibilities by listening to others pray. Some prayers raise my thoughts to another realm. I realized that following her example (peer pressure) brought me closer to God.
We have the petty peer pressures of finding fault, gossiping and complaining to contend with. We have the peer pressure to find validation by feeling overwhelm, over busy, and worn out. There’s the constant struggle finding the balance of walking on the Lord’s side of the line instead of the world’s side of the line in daily endeavors.
How do we fare? Do we notice and hear the different voices? How do you escape the negative peer pressure?
We also have divine voices calling us to positive peer pressure to find liberation in repentance and the Savior’s atonement. Picking best activity instead of good and better bring peace and fulfillment. The call to serve, ever constant, stretches us from the comfort zone of overwhelm to a higher plane.
Especially while adulting, voices are all around us. Whose do you hear?
We can choose the peer pressure of fallen man or the peer pressure of eternal life. Ties to both are strong. But only one delivers the fulfillment and validation we seek as children of God.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.