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Breaking Free: Did I have the courage to go against the tide?

As told to Elky Pascal

Peer pressure. I learned what that meant when I entered high school. It was the end of ninth grade and I was filled with pre-camp jitters. I wanted to do everything right. I wanted to have a perfect summer. I want to fit in so, so badly. That was the thought that consumed me during the long and exhausting shopping trips with my mother.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

broken chain“These T-shirts are nice, Temima” said my mother walking toward a large display of colored T-shirts.

I sighed. Yes, technically they were fine. But those weren’t the ones I wanted; I wanted the ones that all my friends would be wearing. I wanted to be part of the “in crowd.” But how would I explain that to my mother?

“They’re okay … I guess,” I said. But then I pointed to the ones I really wanted — from a display at the other corner of the store. “But I like these so much better,” I said.

Now it was my mother who sighed — when she glanced at the price tag. The T-shirts I wanted were triple the price of the T-shirts that she had picked out! In the end we compromised and got a few of each. My mother wasn’t thrilled, but finally gave in — she realized this was important to me, and they were completely tzniyusdig too.

I hardly slept the night before camp; I was terribly nervous. I woke up early on the first day of camp and dressed carefully. My hair was carefully blown — not a hair out of place — my T-shirt had an alligator on it, and my sweatshirt sported a “J” on the zipper. I looked just right. I hoped.

I looked in the mirror and my conscience piped up. Since when do you care about brand names? Last summer you couldn’t care less … How had I gotten swept into the peer pressure? How had I become a follower of the latest trends?



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