Recently, I was talking with a friend (hi!) about peer pressure and sex. She asked how I avoided the peer pressure to be sexual (or at least, that's what I think she asked). I don't think I've ever written about peer pressure directly, so I thought it would be fun to write about.
One of my best-remembered experiences with peer pressure was around seventh grade, when I had recently moved across the country. I bought Chumbawamba's Tubthumping album because everyone else was into it, even though it had no relation to any of my own musical tastes at the time. Later, this seemed so stupid to me that I vowed never to be moved by peer pressure again. I did lapse a few times, most notably when I wrote an angry letter to a teacher because the other kids asked me to. That was really a terrible idea, and, before high school even started, turned me off to peer pressure even further.
I don't think anyone "avoids" peer pressure, although that's mainly an issue of semantics. Unless you're a wolf-child, you'll have peers that will pressure you. But, I always felt a disconnect with the other kids in school. I couldn't relate to most of my peers at all-- when most of the girls were talking about things like Jonathan Taylor Thomas (remember him?), I was most interested in environmentalism and science. Whenever I went to school, I felt like a tourist visiting another culture. Finally, in high school, others began to share my interests-- my favorite part of school was working in the organic garden with about 3 other "alternative" kids.
Later on, I think having an asexual identity is precisely what helped me most to avoid the peer pressure to be sexual. If I hadn't discovered asexuality, and still identified as heterosexual, I shudder to think about the unwanted sexual contact I might have had by now, trying to prove to myself that I was "normal" (operative word being "unwanted"--scary thought!). I got new peers in terms of sexuality, which enabled me to withstand the pressure. Instead of coming from my own group, like it did when I identified as straight, the pressure now comes from "outside", making it easier to ignore.
Little did I know that peer pressure would persist into adulthood, and it would be the same as childhood peer pressure. The pressure as a kid is to be a "grown up", and apparently, this is the pressure that we'll still face, apparently until we're around 50. How many times have you heard someone's marriage announcement, and someone else invariably comments about how "grown up" we're getting? As if a marriage is some kind of timewarp that ages you beyond the rest of us! Perhaps Michael J. Fox should look into that.