Peer Pressure is Ignorance

The irony of peer pressure is that life’s complexities apply to everyone and anyone. Succumbing to the preventable peer pressures of alcohol consumption, drug abuse, gambling, crime, etc. affect a celebrity just as easily as a commoner. In many instances, one’s financial status is taken to an extreme, either remaining highly influential or no longer. Whether positively or negatively based, such an extreme is maintained by the existence of self-assurance, self-esteem, morale, etc. For example, a young inner-city teenage male of a low-income broken home who is lured into the death trap of an initiation into a gang will assume that “fast cash/guap”(“guap” is the urban-labeled slang or ebonic equivalent for money) is a benefit.

In fact, the teenager’s ignorance will only often lead to multiple routes of peer pressure resulting in either death or incarceration. This is because peer pressure is a chain reaction of ignorance. Though highly reversible, it is an ignorance that I, myself, fell short to.

Life for an average middle class African-American young girl raised in northern New Jersey never seemed too discomforting. Having been raised in a devout Christian God-fearing home with two college-attending hardworking parents, a younger brother, and a private Catholic school education to back us up, there was no question of the continuity of our education. In my home, too much education was never too much in attempt to live above and beyond the given expectations of the “American dream”! But the perplexities presented themselves in my preparation for college. I did not want to goâÂ?¦where everyone anticipated I would. Because it was automatically assumed I would attend a nearby small private Catholic university where class sizes were minimal and attention spans high, I deliberately detested the idea! Straight A’s, popularity, and an active social life outside varied extracurricular activities was simply not enough for my parents. Barely eighteen years of age, I was forced to conform to their college of choice, attending a private Catholic institution in upstate New York on a four-year scholarship into an honors program.

It was just shortly after that I had begun to proclaim Atheism; surely not because I was really a follower but merely because I was unhappy. However, although I maintained the required high GPA, I emphatically and candidly declared my unhappiness to my family members for almost two years straight through the end of my sophomore semester’s conclusion. By then, I just could not bare the peer pressure any much longer! And so, I escaped.

Upon despising my family’s selected private Catholic conventionality, I decided to quit. I quit school! It is to this day that many question how it is possible for a life-long aspiring straight A Doctor of Pharmacy to just quit. But I did. I quit the peer pressure and flew to the Middle East for two of the longest, most treacherous, impeccably unenduring months of my life. Surely, the reasoning behind my spontaneous impulse was that if I were to just up and quit something, my new venture would be a surefied failure if I remained in the U.S. My answer was to run. I assumed that if I challenged myself with something like ATTEMPTING to join the military, I could challenge my family. What, I questioned, could be more challenging than willingly risking one’s own life? Some might even say that I was praying for death at one point.

However, listen carefully. Here comes the turning point. As much as I did and would always admire our fallen heroes and heroines, the Middle East was not for me. I say it was a dream that brought about my epiphany. Some say it was common sense, merely luck, or just another spur-of-the-moment impulse sort of thing. But I say it was God.

Today, I thank God that at such a tender age, I have been able to witness first hand what it means to appreciate life, having almost lost it and all overseas. I never even executed my plan of joining the military. But I was in Iraq pursuing “personal observation”. Do you know that I stayed for two whole months; from December to February, and not one sound? But two days after I still reluctantly returned home, a nearby camp where I had retreated was completed destroyed by a platoon of enemies and their bombs; thereby instantly killing over 306 people and 78 more in the surrounding area; both children and adults. The camp was just two and a half miles from where I had retreated. So do not tell me about luck or even about peer pressure. I returned home just in time because it was in God’s will for me to do so.

I intentionally expressed the detail of both examples of positive and negative peer pressure to indicate that neither instance was best for me at the time. After my brief sabbatical, I am proud and privileged to say I am now entering my senior year at the very same private institution in upstate New York that I had originally “quit”. You see, the moral of my story is that although I initially blamed the peer pressure of my family for my drastic move overseas, I know now that they were only protecting me from what I was unprepared to handle. Death is something that no age, no race, and not even a single skeptic can prevent. However, ignorance is.

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