Honestly, I hope that the peer pressure I’m subjected to gets a little cooler. Having grown up watching chick flicks and high school movies, it’s *almost* disappointing to see that instead of getting pushed to drink or have sex, I’m getting pushed into studying instead.
Yes, I’m serious. Allow me to explain. Like anywhere else, my class is segregated on the basis of social groups that tend to conform to typical stereotypes in some way or the other. We do have the typical ‘stoners,’ ‘airheads’ (or SoBo kids) and ‘geeks.’
But in my school, and at similar institutions across the city, my friends and I are part of a new trend that I like to call ‘reverse peer pressure.’
We’re famous for this phenomenon in which competitive people in tense environments tend to battle on the basis of merit. Usually, it happens in scholastic contexts, wherein smarter people in the group discuss their marks so often you feel guilted by peer pressure into studying more so that you have a chance of participating in the next discussion during the lunch recess. Sometimes, it’s about who has the most vocal range, or has published more writing, scored more goals or sold more paintings. Basically, it’s about who has more.
- A new teen phenomenon called ‘reverse peer pressure’ which is based on grades and talent is here- and it’s been around for a while
- It makes teenagers competitive and socially inept, as well as unrealistic and afraid of failure
- Schools, parents/families and outsiders and enablers of this toxic trend
I know it seems like a healthy situation that motivates you to do better. It’s really not. Eventually, the stress to match up to unrealistic or unfeasible standards becomes so severe it derails you from performing at your full potential. Additionally, it causes troubles in your personal life: with family, normal friends, relationships, you name it. Obviously, even you’ll start to get sick of it if while playing Pictionary at a friend’s house all the clues are based on paragraphs from your Chemistry textbook.
I know someone who broke down when they got 97.8% in their Boards because they wanted a 98.
I know heaps of people who’ve almost gotten themselves chucked out of class begging the teacher to give them a 20/20 instead of a 19.5. And while they sound ridiculous, and it is ridiculous- I get it. All the BMWs and Gucci slides in the world don’t matter in the car on the way to the mall because the conversation is always about who finished that assignment first. Frankly, neither should really matter (friendship should only be about who has more fries on their plate, but whatever.)
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Here are some precious quotes from some of my peers:
“ School’s passive aggressive. But mostly aggressive. Everyone’s so obsessed with working we’ve forgotten how to be fun only.”
“There are three S’s everyone’s supposed to care about- Sleep, Social life and Studies. Guess which one actually matters bro.”
“Bro, it’s a safety college. Chill. If our seniors could get in, we have to ya.”
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I almost forgot about ‘the college thing.’ Anyone in senior school, particularly at an Indian ‘international’ school, is fixated on going to a top-tier university at the undergraduate level. Of course, it isn’t enough to just get in where you want to go. Your final choice must be competitive, top-tier, acceptance rate has to be below 10% and usually has to be in the US. God forbid you don’t get into an Ivy. HOW WILL YOUR FRIENDS INSTAGRAM YOUR ACCEPTANCE THEN?? Even your family doesn’t cut you any slack. What will Ma tell Roopa Aunty when a liberal arts college shows up on the slide during graduation?
Someone’s always saying “Pray bro, otherwise everyone will think you’re stupid. “
These are actual concerns people have in communities and conversations where the worst thing you can be is ‘stupid.’ If you ask me, the entire thing is stupid. Study what you want to. If you want to take IB Math at the Standard Level and not at the Higher Level, do it- even if you become a social outlaw. Do the assignment a week before the deadline instead of a year in advance. ‘Live life on the edge.’ Go to college wherever you want, and hope you get peer pressured into something cool. Pray bro, pray.
Views expressed are the author’s own