All it takes is for one person to speak up about who they really are for you to feel like you belong.
Growing up through teenage years and into early adulthood has been a challenging experience for many of us. There are so many expectations from society on what we should and shouldn’t do, which becomes confusing and causes us to question ourselves.
Do I fit in? Why am I different to everyone else? Why doesn’t anyone understand? These are just a few of the questions I remember asking myself.
My experience of peer pressure to drink alcohol
For me, the pressure from others to drink alcohol was a huge issue throughout school and college. It was something that I struggled to escape. As soon as people found out that I made the choice not to drink, those people started becoming more distant and eventually had nothing to do with me.
I was excluded from social gatherings and people made me feel like my choice was a bad one. As a young teenager, all I wanted to do was fit in, yet my decisions caused me to become an outsider. I’d never felt more lonely.
As a young teenager, all I wanted to do was fit in, yet my decisions caused me to become an outsider.
There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Somehow, feeling lonely seems to be worse and that’s a feeling I became used to. But I wasn’t alone. I had quite a few friends, a happy family, and everything I could ever want.
However, choices such as the decision to not drink alcohol made me feel like an outcast in any situation, at any moment. I could be really enjoying myself and it only took one person to mention drinking for me to feel lonely. I felt the stares. I knew I didn’t fit in. I felt like I wasn’t normal.
I can promise you something though… it does get better!
I was scared that they’d all think I was a loser and not want to socialise with me.
Don't be ashamed of who you are
My moment of realisation happened just over two years ago when I started a new job in a supermarket. One of the first conversations I had with my colleagues involved the topic of drinking and partying.
As we all went around talking about our own experiences, I remember feeling the dread of admitting to them that I didn’t like it.
I was scared that they’d all think I was a loser and not want to socialise with me. It’s hard enough starting a new job to then be pushed aside because you aren’t the same as them.
To my surprise, their reaction was completely the opposite! One of them even admitted that he didn’t drink either and this is the moment that has stuck with me ever since.
Embrace who you are and never change to please others if it doesn’t feel right to you.
Peer pressure plays a huge role in the choices we make. It’s difficult to say no when everyone around you is pressuring you into doing something that you don’t want to do.
It’s a tough situation to be in, but being strong and standing your ground is the right thing to do.
If there is one message that I want you to take away from this, it’s that you are unique and unique is beautiful! Embrace who you are and never change to please others if it doesn’t feel right to you.
More information and advice
We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.
Where to get help
However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
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