Peer Pressure

July 20, 2017
By , Sliema, Malta

She flicks her hair across her shoulder as she moves to grab the red-topped glass bottle. Pouring the liquid into a flimsy plastic cup she looks at me, sitting soberly on a rock by the sea. The angle between the bottle and the cup suddenly begins to decrease, it does so until there is a continuous stream of clear liquid moving downwards into the cup. The cup is now filled to the rim and the bottle now back in the cooler. Giggling she places her hand on her bikini clad chest and calls my name, I move towards her and the rest of the party. I politely decline her offer of a sip of the contents of the cup. Her mouth turns from a cheeky smile to a pout, her eyebrows fall to a frown and she offers again. I decline. She begins to persistently push the cup against my firmly sealed mouth, refusing to accept my answer. At this point everyone's eyes have come to rest upon us, she just lets out a pretty little laugh and continues to shove the cup in my face. Some watch, some cheer, some pretend not to notice and some protest. I tell her I don’t want any for what seems like the millionth time but again it appears to have no effect. I feel so hopeless, if I give in it will be easier but I shouldn’t, it would make me the type of person I don’t want to be. Weak, a push over, her follower. My lips do not move apart, I deny her that. Clearly angry and surprised that anyone would defy her she begins to attack me verbally. It’s happened before and as my best friend she knows these words will hurt me but she spits them anyway,’Come on, don’t you want to be cool for once in your life?’. I blink back tears and move away, turning my back on her laughter and flirtatious gestures.

The party continues and I put on a mask of smiles, bravery and laughter, it only comes off at home. The mask held back my tears, anger and hurt, but by myself all my feelings surge out. At school the next day I try to place it over my face again, but it seems it is one use only. She notices something is wrong as soon as she sees my face, I tell her that I need to talk to her after the lesson is over, looking confused she agrees. Sitting on a bench coated with rust in the playground I confront her calmly. She has no idea that she’s done anything, she just stares blankly at me and says ‘I didn’t mean it like that’.

This is what haunts me to this day, that she sees nothing wrong with her actions, that it was all a ‘joke’ or ‘not meant in that way’. How can we expect to prevent or stop peer pressure if those who are enforcing it cannot see anything wrong with their actions?

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