As human beings, we ladies are a social bunch of creatures. We like doing things together. Eating, shopping, going to the movies, and getting ready for a night on the town – there are lots of things in life that we would rarely dream of doing alone. But sometimes, being social gets us in trouble. We do things in groups that we normally wouldn’t do by ourselves. Think about any movie or TV show that you’ve watched recently (even last night’s GOP debate) – nestled in the script there is undoubtedly drama that’s the result of peer pressure.
But hold on a minute. If you really stop to think about it – peer pressure isn’t always bad. When we surround ourselves with good, positive, well-meaning individuals, then as a collective we will surely make good, positive, well-meaning decisions. When we seek sobriety, we seek sober company. When we seek knowledge, we seek a teacher wise in their ways. In life we consistently turn to peers who claim to (and often do) know more than we do about what we seek. Still, sometimes the best intentions can be the most misguided, and can proffer the worst results for everyone. That’s why, as an EDF, you’ve got to know how to hold your own and how to stay grounded as an individual caught up in a sea of collective moments.
photo via busyprinting
If you’re familiar with Carl Jung, you’re familiar with the idea of a collective unconscious. According to Jung, the collective unconscious is an inherited set of thoughts that is identical in all human beings. While collectivity is something many argue we cannot and should not escape, the idea that we can share moments, ideas, memories, and even a collective unconscious does not negate the fact that individuals make individual choices about how they operate in the collective setting.
I have a friend who enjoys going out and having a good time with friends once or twice a month. She might have one drink too many, and the next day she doesn’t feel so well. We all make mistakes from time to time, and I never think her a worse person (or myself a better person) for having these hungover moments. But what drives me absolutely insane is that she never owns up to why she gets into these situations. She always blames it on others. “I had to drink – everyone else was drinking. Guys kept buying me drinks, and I couldn’t say no.”
Now, I don’t yell often. But I will yell this: YOU CAN ALWAYS SAY NO!!!!!
In case you skip over words in all caps, I shall re-emphasize: You can always say no!!! Always always always. There is never a moment in your life where you have to do something because someone asks you* to do it, or because you think everyone wants or expects you to do it, or because it’s “the only thing to do”. There are always at least two choices in every situation. Which path you choose is entirely an individual decision, and the intense collective moments are the moments where it is most important to keep this in mind.
If you do make a decision that you regret the next day, or the next week, the worst thing you could possibly do is say “I had to do it.” Honey, that’s just pathetic. Don’t let other people make decisions for you. And if you do, at least own up to the fact that it’s your own decision to let other people make decisions for you. You let them do it once, or maybe even three or four times, but luckily this is not a vicious circle. As soon as you take control of your own actions, life will be much more livable.
So, next time you find yourself in the middle of a group that’s about to do – or not do – something that you know is morally wrong, or you know you will regret, take a second to stop and think. You should be able to confidently answer these three questions at any crossroads:
- Why should I do this?
- Could this cause intentional or unintentional harm to anyone or anything (including myself)?
- Is this what I want to do right now, or is there a wiser way to spend my time?
Memo to yourself: you are in charge of you. Let this one thought guide all your decisions, and you’ll find yourself making much better choices.
* except maybe if you’re still living with your parents and they ask you to take out the garbage or clean the litter box