It’s only the truly deluded and out of touch with reality who will try to convince you that this doesn’t exist post teenage years. If anything, it becomes more sinister, ultimately more life-changing and more severely competitive.
So in school peer-pressure was
– Making sure you weren’t the one with Ellesse trainers when everyone else had Reeboks
– Wearing a chain thinner than a spider web that was practically a choker, when everyone else’s ones were of an industrial strength and width, and long enough to play double-dutch with if they should so choose
– Rolling your skirt up to the extent it looked like you had a tyre hanging around your waist like a hula-hoop, or for boys allowing your trousers to sag low enough to be a natural dustpan and brush along the street
I mean there are just endless examples, non?
But there came a stage, and it usually happens around the age of 20/21, where you realised that none of that stuff mattered; the people making you feel bad because your trainers had a different logo (I mean come on!), or because your parents disposable income warranted Argos-standard jewellery and not Swarovski, or because you were more appropriately and decently dressed than many of your peers. In fact if anything, this is the age in which ‘individuality’ and ‘I just don’t care what anyone thinks I’m an individual, accept me or sod off’ and ‘my swag is my own’ is the most celebrated, adored, and idolized mentality. To the point that is seduces many of its practitioners into thinking they have escaped the shackles of definition, repression, subjugation, discrimination and every other –tion that was holding them down in this life and ‘putting them in a box’.
Well, I’ve come to tell you that pigeons are freer than we ever hope to be.
Why? Because after the recycled paper with fancy gold lettering (if even that) with a ribbon from the poundshop (they will try to make out that it’s from an exquisite haberdashery but it’s really not) wrapped around it, has been placed in your hands in approximately 3.23 seconds (3/4 whole years for that!), you’ve effectively been given a passport into the next echelon of social and peer rivalry. But maybe you didn’t go to university and you got a job – that was your Express train ticket to that destination.
On the face of it, the issues seem the same; who’s wearing a red-soled shoe and who’s not. Sounds like the Ellesse vs Reebok situation right? Wrong. Because where before your inability to acquire the higher grade was shameful and deeply humiliating, ultimately the fault of which could always be projected on your ‘stingy parents’ who just had no idea how to raise a teenager in the 21st Century, that excuse doesn’t run past 21. Your inability to keep up with the Jones’ now explicitly and unforgivingly implies your incapability as a person to make money, get a fantastic job, and live life like a boss all day every day singing Drake – HYFR. The shorter translation of that scenario being – you’re basically a failure.
Failure. What a word. It’s a word that though we may not like to admit it, we feel hangs like a dark cloud over our heads threatening to devour us and send us into the oblivion of the masses of people who never did anything, and never amounted to anything. And that’s the one thing we can’t bear; leaving the earth as we entered. Being the proud human beings that we are, rather than staying humble, running our own race, and staying in our lane, many of us choose to try to prove our significance (as opposed to just being significant) in some of the most outwardly pitiful and desperate ways:
Remember the red-soled shoes? Well now that becomes the emblem of success, attractiveness and desirability for some, empowering what it was only ever meant to compliment. But yet ownership of these shoes has for some become the green card to social acceptability.
And then there are the self-made CEOs. I’m not talking about the legitimate ones, whose works and deeds go before them like a trumpet blast sounding like the walls of Jericho are falling so they rarely ever have to announce themselves, I’m talking about the people so desperate to be rated, esteemed and seen as the big woman/man, that they make up the title for themselves. BUT WHEN YOU GOOGLE THEM….
And there’s the getting married bunch. Now, I really think this ‘group’ has the potential to be the most sinister out of all the peer-pressure groups. As in it takes true warriors and a great relationship to survive the extremes that the competitiveness within this group will reveal like a gangrenous sore under a plaster. Remember back in the day when you said you would be happy with a registry office wedding with your babes, and that all you needed was love? Well…wait…hang on. Is that ‘A’ and ‘B’ over there having a wedding in a rustic country church, with 4 doves being released to signify the length of the relationship before marriage, steel pan drums as music, and the hottest photographers and videographers in town?
They cannot out-stage us. For why? We were together before them! Ergo our wedding will be in a palace, we will have 100 multi-coloured parrots to signify ‘till death to us part’ (that should cover all our potential years of marriage), we will have the London Philharmonic Orchestra playing all day, and we will have a live video feed of the whole ceremony online with a Twitter account to provide live key updates and yfrog pictures. We’ll have such an amazing day, people will say it was the best wedding ever ever ever. It won’t matter that it cost £100,000 some of it on credit card, and we can stay with our parents for a few years while we save some money and wait for a council flat to become available. It’s only a 4 year waiting list.
I don’t really think I have the capacity, or need to provide any more analogies, suffice to say that it would be wise to enter each era of life with a reality and alertness about the expectations, rivalries and pressures they will have. No-one is perfect, we all give in to it and some point or another, but it’s really quite sad and pathetic to see so many extreme cases manifesting themselves these days, and what’s the end result? Bitter, empty, unfulfilled and depressed people who feel the same way they felt in the beginning before all the fronting – just a little bit broker, embarrassed, and older.
*enter weak platitude because I just feel I have to end on a feel-good note*
Basically, in the words of T.I. ft Rihanna, Live Your Life.