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Peer pressure and the image

Monday, April 2, 2012

For any student to disregard the informal social rules of a school environment is to bold facedly ask for trouble. None of us in our right mind will voluntarily step out of our niche and risk ostracism. After all, there lies in wait a barrage of insults and taunts that would leave the little dignity and respect we may have, in shambles. In our minds, we’ve all unofficially placed each other into various cliques; a group bound by certain social rules and norms, violation of which leads to excommunication. This black and white categorisation has left little wiggle room, which presents an awkward quandary to that individual considering breaking the rules. But when push does come to shove, do they break them? We’re all talented and that’s no secret. But unless our talent is deemed socially cool, we must suppress it. We must not speak of it or make the mistake of showing it off lest we invite the social jurors to cast judgement. As a matter of fact, image is everything. Why shouldn’t the school’s best male tenor be forced into kicking a ball right? 

Wrong. Why should he?
This most disturbing and unfortunate scenario is alive and all too well among the social dynamics of a student body. The raw talent that everyone is gifted will either be judged worthy or worthless by a set of rules unofficially written to maintain a ridiculous hierarchy. The peer pressure exerted overwhelms most students into ignoring their natural ability, to tap the skill given to them by some higher power. Consequently, most of them do not realise their talent until much later, usually after the secondary school days, when they end up regretting the missed opportunities to showcase themselves as young and upcoming stars. Peer pressure can debilitate a person’s motivation and cause them to steer away from their true desires all in the name of fitting in. We’re used to hearing about peer pressure into social ills such as excessive smoking and drinking. But it leaves one to wonder, how deep does peer pressure really affect a student?
Through the developing stages of secondary school, the desire to fit in trumps almost every other priority. Undeniably, most students focus on their academic aspect, to keep their head above water and make it through the years with satisfactory grades. However, the yearning to be accepted into a clique severely effects on how a student carries about himself around his peers. It often affects how he speaks, what he speaks about and his opinions on that topic. Similarly, it affects the non-verbal communications within and between various groups. In some cases, the person is socialised into believing this is how he must portray himself and as a result, he creates an image; a faćade that will hide his ‘faults’ and showcase only the acceptable attitudes. So what happens when a talent opposes this appearance? Sadly, this occurs in many students. The clash of an ability with an image, and if the ability does not support the image, then it is covered from any peering eyes.
Simultaneously, there are students who practice and mature their talents outside the schooling context. Whether it is parental pressure or parental support, the thrust is given to nurture and rear the ability despite what friends and classmates may think. This number, however, does not equate to the maximum number of students with simmering talents waiting for the chance to boil over. It is imperative that nervous students are given the right support to express themselves via positive outlets. More importantly, this support should come from within the schooling system to illustrate to the student body that there’s nothing wrong with displaying a positive talent, while breaking the social rules of segregation and discrimination. A talent is not to be wasted. A talent is not to be suppressed nor is talent to be chastised. It’s a gift, part of who we are. Therefore, nobody has a right to tell us that we cannot. Take the risk and express yourself. Break the social rules and show your potential. The potential to make excellent use of your time and energy and in the end, there can be no regrets. After all, it’s better to have tried and failed, than to have failed to try.


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