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Peer Pressure by Fong Yin Qi

There are many causes of stress. Family problems, schoolwork, et etcetera - but the most common of all has to be peer pressure.

Peer pressure, as the name suggests, is a form of pressure that exists amongst a group of similar people. It can be in a pressure within a group of students, colleagues of the same workplace or people of the same age group.

When we are in a group, there is a tendency to want to perform as well or even better than the others. So we start pushing ourselves, consoled by the thought of winning admiration from the others. When others do well, it's a huge blow to us. Silently and gradually, peer pressure creeps behind us and enters our mind. Unknowingly, we've been "possessed" by peer pressure.

"Whoa, you got a Nokia 8250!" "Look at her Nike shoes! Latest fashion!" "You got 90 marks for Physics?!" Do these exclamations sound very familiar to you? Well, these are commonly overheard in secondary schools, especially in RGS. Peer pressure not only comes with results, but in the recent years, also with fashion and trends. Nowadays, just to be "in" and not considered a nerd, there are many "rules" to follow (e.g.: low belts, the latest handphones, after-school Orchard Road excursions and the like.) Some of us will realize that our "good-girl" friends have been attracted to the cool crowd and are breaking every other school rule. They are still friendly, but gone are the good old days. We know that the only way to remain friends is to follow them. It's worth being like them, because not only do you get to be friends, you will also be considered "normal". All at the small expense of a few bookings by the dreaded prefects. Or so you think.

Taking that path could easily cause a drastic drop in grades, frequent arguments with family, and various other problems. In addition, during the excursions, all you need is one wrong move to possibly destroy your future. By mixing with the wrong crowd, you could end up on the wrong side of law, way off from your actual intentions. Whether you will be fine or not depends solely on yourself, not on those useless friends for whom you ended up in that state.

There are also other, occasionally more serious cases. Your friends could be crazy over Christina Aguilera's skeletal figure and start cutting down on food to achieve the look. However, meeting with failure, they will end up being teased and bothered by others. At this point, people react differently. Some go "Heck care!" and ignore the mocking, perhaps even giving up the ridiculous ideal. The more sensitive ones, though, might starve themselves, and end up with anorexia, or, in some cases, be driven to the brink and commit suicide. A terrible ending, isn't it?

So anyway, just believe in yourself and you should be fine. Don't ever follow the crowd blindly! Remember, the cloud of peer pressure is always lurking around us, waiting to claim its next victim...