Doing what everyone else is doing is not always a bad thing– sometimes your friends’ influence can be a good thing, they might actually stop you from doing something stupid that you’ll regret later.

But if you’re doing stuff that doesn’t feel right to you, or you’re just doing it to fit in, watch out. You don’t want to go along with the group all the time, especially on stuff you feel strongly about. If you do it too often it can cause you to question who you really are. Having really strong feelings of self-doubts can contribute to depression or anxiety.

Knowing what’s important to you – what you value – is essential. It’s like an internal compass that helps you stay heading ‘North’, even when it feels like your friends want you to head ‘South’.

Pressure from mates can be really tough to face up to. So here’s some ways you can stay true to yourself:

  • Try and hang out with friends who value the same things as you.
  • If your friends don’t ever think like you, you might want to find people who share similar views to you.
  • Try and not worry about saying ‘No’. If you explain why you don’t want to do something, hopefully you’ll get respect.
  • You can start off with really small things and practice saying ‘No’. Chances are it’ll become easier to do over time
  • You can agree to disagree and still be friends. Respecting someone else’s choice might help them respect yours.
  • You don’t have to be responsible for your friends’ behaviour or keep trying to change them. Your main responsibility is you.

Remember, even when you know what you stand for, you can only control your own behaviour and there are some situations where other people can get out of hand.

If you feel threatened, are being hurt, or pressured into something that you are really uncomfortable with, you need to tell someone. Being yourself doesn’t mean you have to do everything by yourself. Remember there are people you can go to for help; it could be a whānau member, a teacher or a counsellor. That’s especially true if you’re being forced to do something you don’t want to do.

Kia kaha – stay strong.