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Conformity vs. Independence

Your Way or Their Way

Humans are social animals. It is natural for us to want approval from our peer group (people in our social circle). The way we try to get peer approval changes as we grow up.

Most younger teens want to be just like the peer group they're part of, or the group they want to be part of. Being "different" is generally not seen as being cool. This includes copying everything from dress, music, food consumption, and what backpack to carry. All of this may seem extremely important. Hey, anyone who looks or acts different is weird!

Conformity Is Cool or Is It?

Being like everyone else is seen as the "norm," though peer pressure to do certain things doesn't necessarily go with the territory. For example, just because everyone dresses alike and loves the Chicago Bulls doesn't mean that everyone will smoke cigarettes and drink beer in seventh grade. People still are able to make their own individual choices, and they will depending on their self-esteem.

How's Your Self-esteem?

If you feel good enough about who you are then you'll chose what's good for you even if your best friend chooses something different. So if you hang out with friends who choose to get "high" rather than do their homework, or to shop lift rather than "window" shop, remember who you are and which values you value.

What Are You Into?

Teens start focusing on individual areas of interest as they move toward high school. Your identity as an artist, writer, environmental activist, actor, student politician, athlete, musician, dancer, computer brain, etc. may start developing at this point, too. You find yourself connected to a new peer group. You may also start conforming more to the styles and norms of that group!

Individuality Rules!

Things change a lot in high school. Sure there are certain cliques (tight social circles), and definite interest groups, but conformity to dress codes, etc. are no longer the driving force of life. (Thank goodness!)  Figuring out who you are and what you like is encouraged. Independence and non-conformity are respected! Now it is "cool" to be different. In fact, as you mature throughout life, free thinkers are seen as the most interesting people rather than merely freaks or weirdoes.

Don't Forget Who You Are.

Your taste in clothes, hair, music and stuff will change, but the kind of person you are determines the choices you make throughout life. Be aware that every situation has its good parts and bad parts. Then you'll be able to make thoughtful choices to help you stay more in control of your life!

Remember.... now and always...

Be true to yourself and your values.

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