Peer Pressure: Not Just for Kids Anymore

March 1, 2007 | By More

We are going snow skiing for Spring Break. This trip is forcing me to admit that a lecture I frequently give my boys is one I needed to heed myself. It is the one dealing with peer pressure. You know the one that includes a line like, “If everyone else was jumping off the cliff would you do it too?”

I came home last year from skiing with a lovely souvenir that covers most of my leg. How I got my souvenir seems to put me into the yes category for “If everyone else was jumping off the cliff would you do it too?”

I like to snow ski. The only problem is I am terrible at snow skiing. My friends, Lisa Porter and Jeannie Walker, have actually taken my skies away from me. Meaning I had to trudge down the mountain. It was definitely for my own safety. A ski patrol passed by and inquired if I was OK. I enlightened him that I was such a horrendous skier my friends confiscated my skies. It was hysterical!

Several years ago at ski school I experienced this thing called a people mover. You just step on and off you go. You ride up and ski down over and over again until you have learned to ski. Well, that’s the idea anyway.

My husband, who knows how to ski, had accompanied me for moral support. He kept encouraging me to give it one more try. I was having terrible altitude sickness and was wobbly in the knees. This quickly became obvious to everyone as I stepped on the people mover and promptly fell backwards. I smacked my head loudly and continued up the people mover on my back. That occurrence alone would have stopped most people, but not me. I was back on the slopes the very next day. I did spend much of that day wondering if it was customary to watch the ski lift chair pass over me while I lay in the snow.

Last year I returned to ski school with the hope of mastering how to depart a lift without falling. If by chance I improved other skills necessary for skiing then that would be phenomenal. As the afternoon went on I conquered the ski lift. I was so excited. On our last run of the day, Clouse, my instructor, said we were going to attempt a run that was slightly more difficult but he thought we could manage. At first all was well. Then we stop at the top of a short steep run (it was steep to me). Clouse wanted to talk us through how to navigate this part of the run. Instantly the little voice that we tell our children they should listen to went off in my gut.

I knew this was more than I could handle. This section was going to provide some speed. I like to ski at a speed that allows me to gaze at the pretty trees and ponder what people are wearing on the slopes. I want it to be kinda like walking, only smoother.

I almost decided to tell Clouse, “Forget it, and call me a snowmobile.” I had already accomplished what I set out to do – get off a lift without falling.

Peer pressure set in. The stuff we counsel our kids to overcome. 1) Everyone else had skied down the hill. 2) They were all telling me it was OK. 3) They were encouraging me to give it a try. 4) I was embarrassed to say I couldn’t do it.

Giving in I said, “What is the worst that can happen? You will fall, so what. You have fallen a hundred times before.” I pushed off and immediately gained speed. I was falling. No big deal, until my body kept going and my right ski didn’t. By the time I stopped sliding my right leg was twisted with my ski and foot up by my head. Back in my gymnastic days that wouldn’t have been any big deal, but now it was killing me. I lay there thinking, “Get my ski off, get my ski off.” Only to realize there was no one there to get my ski off but me. I twisted around and popped it off with my ski pole. Clouse made it up the hill and asked if I was hurt. I said yes, but not wanting to be a baby told him I could finish skiing down. I could not push my boot into my ski, Clouse had to do it. That should have told us I was going nowhere but we pressed on. When I put full weight on my knee it was all over. Down I went and this time I was crying.

I would need a medical sled to get down the mountain. All the way down I kept telling myself, “I knew I should not have done this. Why didn’t I tell Clouse to call me a snowmobile?” By the time we left the clinic I was on crutches and in a brace. I had torn my ACL and my meniscus.

It was a humbling experience. I allowed myself to make a decision I felt pressured into, one I knew I shouldn’t do.

The good thing is I am much more empathetic to the peer pressure my kids face and how sometimes it can get the best of them. I also have a new line in my lecture, “Remember when your mother caved in to peer pressure and look what happened to her….”

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Category: Every Day Life

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