Pamela P. is a Junior in Biology at Cal State Channel Islands. She has been a resident of Ventura County her whole life.
Growing up can be difficult. We find ourselves constantly trying to fit in and sometimes even changing who we are and what we think to be like our friends. At times we may not feel right about the things our friends do and we may not want to do them either — but we do anyway to fit in the group.
It is important that we remember to be ourselves. Standing up for our beliefs is not something that is wrong. I think the problem is we are afraid of being alone and having no friends, but if they don’t like us for who we are from the beginning then those should not be friends; friends should accept you as you are and respect your thoughts and beliefs.
I personally experienced this problem. In middle school there was a group of girls that for the most part ran the whole seventh grade. They would ditch school, talk back to teachers, and do drugs after school or when they skipped school. If I wanted to be part of their group I had to do the same thing they did and in that way then become “cool”.
I honestly didn’t like any of the things they did. For one, I knew they would lead to trouble. Second, I knew school was a lot more important than being “cool”. But if I said no to my troublemaking “friends,” I was afraid I would be alone — and maybe get bullied for not being “cool.”
I decided to stand up for what I thought was right and didn’t hang out with them. I was right — I got picked on and didn’t have any friends. I’m not going to lie — it was hard sitting alone at recess and lunch. But deep down, I knew I was doing the right thing for me.
Eventually those girls got sent to an opportunity school and did not graduate middle school — and I did! It was a lonely time but I did me and was proud of that.
Many times, as young people, we are scared to stand up for what we know is right and what we like because we fear that rejection and judgment. But if we define our beliefs and hold them strong, one day we will find true friends who respect us and don’t pressure us to do thing we don’t like.
Standing up for ourselves can be the greatest example for others. There may be other people who are also scared to stand up for themselves — maybe, if they see you doing what you like and what you know is right, they may get the courage to do the same.
Don’t fall for the pressure, do what you think is best and in the end it will be the best for you. Be yourself!