By: Anthony Mikatarian

We as human beings are blessed to be social souls. Without this prominent trait we possess, we as a human race would not fully flourish. The sense of belonging to a societal group is natural, as long as it doesn’t damage your own true identity.  Unfortunately, though, you will constantly be challenged by peer pressure, as well as other external and even your own internal forces, to stay on your true identity’s path. There is no one out there that I have encountered who hasn’t found themselves at a crossroads in questioning and figuring out their true and purposed identity.

The constant undertow of socially belonging leaves you constantly challenged on staying afloat in your identity. When self-doubt, questioning, opinions and/or overwhelming peer pressure kicks in, this is when the undertow is at its strongest, leaving you vulnerable to drowning in it if you’re not careful. This can leave you in the desperate and misguided position of wrongfully conforming in order to survive, leaving your pure self and identity behind.  Hence, you find yourself lost in a world to strictly please others while leaving your own beliefs and values behind. You become a conscious (and at times a subconscious) replica of what they expect you to be and not what you were truly meant to be. It is a difficult task to overcome this because of responsibilities to loved ones and survival.

In being a seasoned officer, family member, friendship holder, student, multi-business professional and finely aged human being, I have learned that in all aspects of your life the tug of peer pressure approval is at its most powerful when your own identity is at its weakest.

In all types of the social relationships that you have, from the most unsavory to the ones you love dearly, they all constantly affect how you need to be, act and live. Some are good-hearted attempts, some are given with bad attentions and some are just given without real thought. Nobody really knows what is best for you because nobody really knows the authentic you. Does anybody really offer 100 % of themselves?

The good, bad and ugly advice someone offers is only as good as what you reveal to them about yourself. From people with the worst intentions to the ones with the purest intentions, they lay on peer pressure and their opinions as to what is offered to them by you. They are also influenced by their own beliefs and agendas to try and transform you. More likely than not, their offerings are tainted with the giver’s interpretation of what the real you should be.  You also have to decipher if they are genuine, jealous, evil, self-serving or uninterested offerings.

A way to combat this is to find and familiarize yourself with people who do not totally and blindly follow a flock. These people live their lives flying at times against the flock. You can learn from these people, who forge through the negative forces to live the way they were meant to live. These authentic people live life on their own terms and belief system. Remember that people’s opinions are only that! An opinion is a view or judgement formed, which is not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Simply put, the only person who knows the real you is YOU. Have the aptitude to embrace your own instincts. Always listen, but void out the unnecessary and self-serving peer pressure and opinionated noises. And most of all, believe in your judgement on what road to follow in finding the real you! As always, God bless and stay safe!