Instructor’s note: Students often write about peer pressure. This insightful entry explores the effects of another kind of social pressure.
Being from a small town is quite an experience. Have you ever heard of or seen in movies where a group of older women sit around on the porch or at a meeting and gossip about everyone in the town? Well, welcome to where I’m from. Nothing’s a secret and don’t even think about trying to keep anything private. Your failures, your accomplishments, your mistakes, or your good deeds are out for everyone to know. How comforting, right? You make a mistake that you wish you could take back and ten minutes later the entire town, including your grandmother, knows about it.
Growing up is hard enough without people developing your character for you. The hormones and the awkwardness are plenty to deal with, but add on a side of judgment 24/7 and that makes it heaven. My sarcastic tone has not gone unnoticed, I hope. Adolescence is probably one of the hardest stages in your life, but to be where I’m from makes it so much worse.
What tends to happen is that those judging you seem to make you believe that everything they have observed and made of you is true. Of course it isn’t. Growing up is about finding who you are and finding out who you want to be. It’s about believing in yourself, no matter how many mistakes you’ve made and are going to make. But people develop such a perception of you based on your mistakes and failures that you begin to believe it yourself.
What I’m trying to say is that no matter if you’re from a small town where everyone knows your business or from a huge city where hardly anyone knows your last name, don’t let people judge you. Embrace your mistakes and learn from them. Cherish your accomplishments and keep trying. The way you handle what other people think or say of you says a lot about your character. Laugh off the comments and keep telling yourself that life is about opinions. Every one has one. You aren’t going to get anywhere hanging on to those opinions; you have to make your own.