Conforming to Peer Pressure as an Adult

The demand for approval is a basic human need. Even if some people don’t value acceptance as much as others, at times, they still crave that sentiment. Our need to belong – to fit in with society – is normal.

It is what pushes us to pursue secure relationships with friends and family. It can be a motivator for us to participate in social activities or contribute to community work, such as volunteering. Bigger than that, conforming to such behaviors and lifestyles can shape our lives. That’s peer pressure as an adult for you.

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At some point, whether you’re 17 at college or 30 working full-time, there has (or will be) a desire for you to fit into a group or a societal norm. This group can make you feel stable and help to identify who you are. These things can lead to a feeling of belonging but also come along with unbelievable peer pressure as an adult too.

This is challenging to cope with and it’s likely that you’ll experience it at some point in your life. We all know it doesn’t just suddenly stop when you turn twenty-one. In fact, I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that as we grow older these pressures simply increase.

Peer pressure and partying

So, you get invited to a huge party but you know that there will be people drinking and taking drugs. You get offered a cigarette. Your friendship group want to stay out until the sun rises, but you have an important meeting in the morning. These are just a few examples of peer pressure as an adult. It can all get a bit much.

What do you do? Do you feel inclined to go along with crowd because, “everyone is doing it” instead of standing up for what you believe in or doing your own thing?

To some, when Friday finally comes around, it can only mean one thing – going out and partying. I get it. After a long week of being stressed out and glued to an office chair, all you want to do is unwind. For young adults, a night about town is usually the cure to chase those weekday blues away. Until the morning after, of course.

The vicious cycle of a weekend

Let’s set the scene. It’s Friday afternoon, you have invitations from friends or work colleagues to go out with them; for dinner and drinks, bar-hopping, clubbing or to a house party — whatever “out-out” means to you.

Whether you really wanted to go or if peer pressure as an adult got the better of you, by Saturday morning your spirits certainly aren’t as high as they were the night before. Stuck in bed and healing a dreadful hangover with day old tea and wondering what you got up to that evening because you genuinely have no idea.

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What’s more are the texts and calls from your friends that you wake up to asking you to come out that night too. A fancy new bar has opened and they just have to be there. Or, the Christmas office party at your work is going on and it would be a crime to not go to mingle and network. You don’t want to miss out or be alone on a Saturday night when your group is having lots of fun. Although, you haven’t yet got over the night before and do you really want to be nursing another, even worse, hangover all of Sunday? You don’t want to be left out or bored. So, after deliberating the positives and negatives of another night out, you get dressed up and crawl out of the house.

A hangover is the last thing you want after a great evening out, so, if you’re struggling to find a quick fix, read these hangover cures from around the world. Fingers crossed, they’ll save you from having a drowsy and dampened morning-after-a-night-out mood.

Do what suits you

As you can see, the continuous peer pressure as an adult to keep up with everything and everyone all at once is a real struggle. Does it ever become an issue?

To some people, maybe never. They may always love going out in this way – no matter how old they are. It could be something that they continue to thrive on and enjoy for a long time. For others, they out-grow partying as their life changes. Yet, they’ll be people who will never be interested or involved in that sort of “fun” – whether they are 16, 26 or 46. They represent their care-free nature in different ways.

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Whichever type of person you are is totally fine. After all, you should do what you want to do regardless of judgement. What is important to acknowledge is if, and when, these kinds of socialising become more nerve-wracking than enjoyable. Or, when your reason for going out changes from wanting to have fun with your group of friends to not wanting to feel alone or being labelled boring.

What does a survey say?

In fact, a 2010 survey from the National Health Service taken by 7,296 teenagers proved this idea exactly. The report – which discussed alcohol, drugs and smoking – stated that 76 percent of these people drunk alcohol to look cool amongst their friends. Additionally, 65 percent said that they drink to be sociable whilst 62 percent expressed that they drank alcohol because they felt pressured to by their friends. Although, this survey was for teenagers, it is apparent that these pressures continue into adulthood. What’s more, is that this survey portrays where drinking alcohol can stem from and how young an age these pressures begin at. These are the pressures and stigmas that our society must overcome.

After all, there’s no point in denying it, there is societal and peer pressure as an adult and as a teenager to party and consume alcohol. Nonetheless, what’s more of a problem is the tendency to support unity by accepting societal norms and snubbing non-conformity. I don’t see any issue with accepting if someone doesn’t want to drink or smoke or go to a club – typical societal norms – so, why should you?

Important life lessons on partying

As children, we were taught about the risks of peer pressure. We were encouraged to be leaders and not followers. Conversely, we were dejected from hanging out with the “wrong crowd” and the dangers involved.

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Then, why do we, as teenagers and adults, not follow these rules when we find ourselves in an awkward dilemma. Of course, you want to experience new things and make new friends so say yes to opportunities that you want to. Nevertheless, skip ahead a few years and you end up saying yes to things to maintain those relationships. Going out for the sake of it. Spending money you don’t have. You worry that if you don’t follow the crowd, you’ll get left behind. Or, that you won’t make new friends because you aren’t doing what everyone else is doing. Even if going out is the last thing you want to do that day.

See, that’s the thing.

Going out to parties, clubs and bars aren’t the only places that you’ll meet people that you get along with. If that’s what you like, then go ahead. But, know that you’ll meet new like-minded people in the most random of places. Don’t think that if you don’t party every weekend that you won’t have a great social life down the line. Plus, if the only time you are meeting up with some of your friends is when you all go “out-out” then perhaps they aren’t a true friend to you anyway.

Fitting in: Peer pressure as an adult

Peer pressure as an adult stems from the peer pressures we experience as children. We notice ourselves mirroring what the other children do or say so that they talk to us and be our friend. Oh, the simplicity of being a six-year-old. However, this imitation continues through to adulthood. Although unintentionally, we’ll alter our expressions, tone of voice or posture dependent on where we are or who we are talking to.

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We, as a society, look for familiarity. It’s a natural human instinct to find a reflection of themselves in others so, really, this comes by no surprise. Familiarity makes us feel secure and is a form of validation – “if everyone else is behaving like that then I must be correct”.

Nevertheless, as a society, we can find it hard to deal with the “odd”. Instead, we seem to pick people who follow and fit in rather than those who stand against that and do what suits them. We find that people who emphasise our differences are harder to connect with. Maybe it’s because they can make us question our own decisions and sense of belonging. Something that we have been working on since a young age.

Peer pressure as an adult goes further than playground games as an 8-year-old or clubbing as a 21-year-old. The demand to conform, even if you are more self-confident and independent than you’ve ever been, seems to reach new heights and it’s hard to resist. Whether the peer pressure is positive or negative, it can be awfully damaging to follow other people and forget to be your own person.

Money pressures as an adult

It’s clear that, as you grow up, money is a tremendous pressure. I bet that almost every single adult would agree with me here. Your finances are what enable you to live the life you lead. So, money ends up being a massive worry. Especially when you think that, if it’s taken away, your life would be entirely different.

Your job, redundancy, rent and debts amongst other money-related pressures, are things that can cause emotional distress to adults every day. Maintaining control over your outlay can bring immense anxiety and strain on not just you, but your family too. They say, “money makes the world go around” and although I hate to admit it, it’s very true.

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Peer pressure as an adult to move up the corporate ladder is significant. This is likely because it goes hand in hand with money pressures, as I have mentioned. The career pressures you end up putting onto yourself can be extreme. This is especially the case if you have children or other major responsibilities. We all put lots of time and energy into creating a fantastic career for ourselves. We compete for that promotion or job opportunity with a fellow work colleague.  If you aren’t where you should be at your age career-wise – based solely upon societal norms – people begin to judge and question your abilities.

The impact of these pressures

I came across a survey conducted by a company called Forth in 2018 – a study on the stress levels of 2,000 people in Britain. The findings that stood out to me the most was that the most common cause of stress is money, followed by work. This, alongside the fact that “85 percent of UK adults are experiencing stress regularly”, proves my point. This data is worrying and shows me how bad peer pressure as an adult can be and its impact on our well-being. It is more vital than ever to tackle these pressures are so that we can better our lives and our out-look.

Parental pressures as an adult

I hear a lot of talk surrounding children and peer pressure, nonetheless, what about pressures that adults receive from other parents? Parents are often bombarded with unwelcome advice on how they should parent and raise their children from infancy through to their own adulthood. Whether these pressures come from friends, family, parenting experts or social media, you’ll be overwhelmed with judgement at every corner.

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For instance, if you take a more relaxed approach to your child’s schoolwork, you’re a careless parent who doesn’t want your child to reach their full academic potential. On the contrary, if you expect too much, you’re putting too much pressure and being unfair onto your child as they should be enjoying their youth without overpowering academic demands.

Furthermore, there are some parents who are happy to let their child watch a film or play a video game rated a 12 or 15. However, some parents won’t want this for their child. They would rather they were watching or playing something more age appropriate.

With saying this, these parents could feel pressured to allow them to do these things if their friends are.  You probably know the drill by now, “My friend gets to play Fortnite, why can’t I?”. But, is it okay to give into things like that so easily? That’s up to you as their parent. But, it is tricky with pressures coming from not just the outside world, but your own child.

These examples only scratch the surface of peer pressure as an adult with children. Although, I’m sure that you can see how stressful it can be. To want to give your child every opportunity there is. Whilst, simultaneously keep yourself sane and happy with how you’re parenting them. Wow, it’s a challenge. Please pass me a rule book, I think I’ll need one!

What do parents think?

A survey conducted by Gov.co.uk in 2011 expressed parental concerns. Statistics stated that 88 percent of over 1,000 parents believe that their child is growing up too fast. This is no surprise, considering the society that we currently live in. Nevertheless, this means that parents have to be even more wary to keep a balance of allowing freedom whilst making sure their child develops at a rate inline with their emotional maturity.

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You’ve got this

So, that’s it. It’s time for you to believe in yourself, your actions and your morals. Learn to stand alone if you must. Don’t succumb to peer pressure as an adult if it’s not what you want. Or, if you feel uncomfortable about the situation. If something holds more positives than negatives then perhaps just miss it out. After all, you know what is best for you and your family.

Your life is here for you to do exactly what you want to do. Whether that is getting married, having children, focusing on your career, school, travelling or anything else for that matter. Everyone’s timeline is different and frankly, it’s no one else’s business what you choose to do at any age. Forget societal norms and the peer pressure it brings, in the end, it’s not worth the hassle. Just do what suits you and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you can’t open top to friends and family consider seeking therapy. And, if time or location is a factor there are even online therapy options too.

Learning to not give into peer pressure an adult – without fear of endless judgement – is crucial. It’ll help you to evaluate how you act and consequently shape your adult life for the better. My advice would be to be assertive, attentive and to learn from your mistakes. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you, your lifestyle and the choices you make. The last thing you want is your friends and family judging you particularly when there are critics everywhere who’ll do that regardless…

Good luck!

Post Author: Elissa Cynamon

Elissa Cynamon
I am a fashion graduate passionate about establishing a career in journalism. You’ll regularly find me writing poetry, going to dance classes or baking delicious vegan treats for my friends and family. More often than not, with a chai latté in hand. Follow me on Instagram @elissadanielle_

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