Here is the fourth question from a high school student who interviewed me for her school paper:
A few of my interviewees have also said that regardless of whether they party or not, they are judged on their friend’s behavior, which is an unfair representation according to them. Why do you think students judge based on their friends and how does this affect the student being judged?
It has been said, “If you want to be wealthy, hang around wealthy people. If you want to be thin, hang around thin people.” Over time, you will be greatly influenced by those with whom you surround yourself. You may choose not to actually partake in using, but you will still be at the parties and you will not see much of an issue with drug or alcohol experimentation. You will develop a reputation based on who you choose as your peer group. This is because habits, both good and bad, rub off on you. I think a more appropriate way to think about the aforementioned quote is to hang out with the straight-A students if you want to have a high GPA. You will start to pick up their study habits and your grades will go up.
The judgments from other students affect every teen. I think it is unusual to come across a freshman or sophomore who is so grounded in who they are that the judgments do not hurt. I find that at 16, 17 and 18 (so juniors and seniors) these judgments tend to matter less and less. This is not always the case, but it is what I see in my office most frequently.