Friendship is one of the best things ever, but when friendship is used to manipulate people, it can get messy. I have noticed peer pressure happens a lot, and it is hard on kids.
It affects how we think, what we choose to wear, how we view others and the choices we make in life that may affect you forever. Peer pressure can even hurt someone or get him or her into a lot of trouble.
I see people really change - good and bad - because of the influence of others. Let's say you are a new student who likes a certain thing. Looking around, you see people who you think would make good friends and you want to be with, but they don't like the same things you do.
So you change or hide your personal preferences, just to fit in. Or they do something and want you to do the same, but you know it's wrong or it just isn't you, and you do it anyway.
As you're reading this, kids are pressuring others to change, do stuff they don't want to, and be just like them. My helpful solutions are to find people like yourself or talk to people and find out who your real friends should and can be.
If someone is putting pressure on you, stand up for yourself, tell him or her how you feel, and tell them what you think is right. It may lose you a "friend," but you can be yourself now without the pressure. Remember, real friendship comes from within.
n Kevin Apolis is a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Virginia City Middle School.