This won’t be like our regular blog post. It’s more like a story. But at the end, you will have learnt how to make everyone leave you alone. Or how to develop immunity to peer pressure.
Usually, I never saw peer influence as a reality that could hinder people from being who they wanted to be. I always thought that whatever anyone was, was what they wanted to be; the environment had no contributions to the make up of individuals.
It wasn’t difficult for me to come to this conclusion, owing to the fact that there was very little (insignificant) or even no pressure at all on me from my environment.
All the people around me could do in trying to influence me was to give suggestions, so I thought it was the same experience with everybody. You know, we don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.
But soon, I started seeing things differently when I began to help people in self-discovery and guide them to purposeful living.
In my conversations with several “clients,” I started to notice that peer pressure was truly pressure to them and not just suggestions as it was to me. I somehow couldn’t proffer solutions to them because I hadn’t personally had to overcome pressure (you can’t give what you don’t have, right?).
But not too long later, this got me concerned. What was wrong with me? Why was my case different? Why were the pressures not interested in me?
I, then, began to explore the pressures of some of those “clients” (now, case studies). I discovered a powerful principle: if you would insist on who you want to be, the whole universe will let you be.
(I’m putting clients in quotes because they weren’t really clients –it wasn’t a formal relationship. I was only passionate and initiated the relationships. But they were effective, however.)
Here is why the pressures weren’t interested in me: I was at a different level in my journey of becoming who I wanted to be.
I have come to observe that the journey towards becoming whatever you want to be moves in this sequence, or close variations of it:
First, you just move towards anything available; “whatever sounds better is better.”
Next, you move to a point of dissatisfaction; you can now notice the inconsistency and lack of progress in your life due to you trying to be everything or just anything.
Then, you begin to explore various options (this was where most of my case studies were). At this point, you are not only searching for what sounds better but what is better. You are now ready to commit yourself to whatever would be the best option no matter how difficult it would be– you are ready for progress!
The downside to this stage, however, is that you haven’t started making progress yet– you are only ready for it.
Just after that, if you are determined enough, you will find a path or the path; an option you have tested and weighed with other options and have concluded is the best.
This stage is closely related to the previous because at this point, you still haven’t started making progress –you have only discovered the path to progress.
Then, progress begins! You begin to make alterations in your life that the new path you have chosen demands. Here is the height of pressure!
Although pressure actually starts at the third stage, during your exploration, as everything is wanting to look like the best, but all the pressures that the journey brings from that point are still comparably minimal and easily overcome-able. But this fifth stage is the peak of pressure, and it is also the threshold.
It requires the greatest effort but it also provides the greatest reward– freedom.
It is at this stage you will have to fight the battle of choice; if you truly want to be what you said you want to be or if you will settle for what you are used to. What in the world is more difficult than change?
This fight is against your friends, your habits, your comfort, but more fiercely, your ego– that (your ego), in actual sense, is the greatest pressure.
You will have to fight your ego and endure the mockery or scorn of your friends; you will have to fight your ego and endure taking upon “boring” habits (new habits usually seem boring at the beginning because they always require discipline before they become a delight); you will have to fight your ego to admit that you have really been living a substandard life before discovering this new path (admitting our errors and faults are usually ego-stinging and most times, we would rather stay with what we know is wrong than admit we were wrong and move higher.)
But once you have won the battle over your ego, every other pressure disappears; it is always death before glory. To be more precise, the pressures don’t actually disappear, but since you have been able to overcome the biggest pressure (your ego), every other pressure comes as a “suggestion” which you can easily choose to accept or decline.
This has brought us to the next stage in the journey to becoming who you want to be, the flight stage. This was the stage I was in while dealing with my clients. Now, there are many other stages after this, which all come with their own level of pressure and challenges, but bulk of the work has been done already — the journey from here is almost on autopilot to becoming who you want to be.
So back to our principle: if you will insist on who you want to be, the whole universe will let you be. You just have to overcome pressure to be above pressure, and the more pressures you overcome, the easier it becomes for you to overcome other pressures.
That’s the take-home.
Olusegun Iyejare is career coach and certified counsellor. He helps entrepreneurs balance mental wellbeing and entrepreneurial success. Think about maximizing your potential or living a fulfilling life and Olusegun is your go to person.