Home > Post A Week 2011 > Peer Pressure at My Age?

Peer Pressure at My Age?

It seems peer pressure is alive and well and living in my forties. That spot between acceptance and disdain still feels uncomfortable and infuriating at the same time. Don’t we tell our children to be true to themselves, follow their consciences not the crowd when instinct tells them something feels wrong? It’s hard sometimes, but they will become stronger and their characters will develop which will hold them in good stead as they become adults. Do we tell them that being an adult doesn’t exempt them from experiencing peer pressure?

With a send off that basically amounted to “play nice”, my husband tried to will me into being as tactful as he is. I left the house this afternoon determined not to return with the dreaded title, “Book Club Enemy Number One”. I love being part of the book club but, man, I hated this book. I have knuckled through difficult books before; that’s okay. No one likes every book that is chosen. I’m quite sure not everyone liked the book I chose.

When I find the book to be offensive and inappropriate, however, I don’t feel I’m obligated to read it. Do I really need to throw a rock at the neighbor’s window just because everyone else is doing it? Will that make everyone like me more (or at all)?

Frankly, I’m not that desperate to be liked and accepted. This isn’t high school. At the end of it all, I need to be able to look in the mirror and respect myself for standing up for what I believe. Obviously, that makes others uncomfortable. I had been repeatedly pressured to read the book, because they found nothing objectionable about it; it’s just life. Well, I’m all for life, but I’m not them. So here is the issue: the book chronicled a woman’s experience with kidnapping, sexual abuse, mental abuse and dysfunctional family issues. It is a powerful story, made more intense by the strong language used. Strong language is an understatement. Try ‘unnecessarily profane’.

Sitting around the table with my book club buddies, I passed no judgement on those who touted the merits of the book:

“It was well written.”

“I didn’t see anything wrong with it.”

“We NEED to read books like this so we can understand what’s happening in the world.”

When it was apppropriate to comment (after being asked point blank “Did you finish the book?” and all eyes turned to me), I quietly explained my position. An onslaught of protests followed. I have been pummelled by protests before today; it won’t be the last time. Until then, I’m wondering how long it will take for my tongue to grow back after biting it all afternoon. I did it, Hubby; I played nice.

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