Peer Pressure Sucks. Here’s a Better Way to Go About it.

Arlo Sanchez
3 min readJan 10, 2024
Photo by Muhamad Iqbal Akbar on Unsplash

2 months ago I came across this concept called ‘High Agency’ — and it blew my mind.

As someone who’s struggled with conformity, to the point of sacrificing myself, the article which I read on the topic shed a new light to how I should approach my actions.

And I love it to bits.

Basically, High Agency is about being okay with being different.

It’s the acceptance of doing what suits you, even if it could:

  • Disappoint Others
  • Get you rejected
  • Make you feel uncomfortable

I could rave more about this article, but I think it’s best if you read it yourself. Here you go: https://nesslabs.com/high-agency-how-to-feel-more-in-control-in-your-life-and-work#:~:text=People%20with%20high%20agency%20feel,fate%2C%20is%20shaping%20their%20path.

Anyway, after reading this article, I’ve found noticeable improvements in my life. Specifically, I find it easier to say ‘no’ to things that doesn’t align with my purpose and values.

Just recently, I was offered (or otherwise pressured) to take a committee role at a school org. I’ve already decided 3 months ago that I didn’t want to partake in any org activities anymore as I don’t enjoy them, I don’t learn much, and I would like allocate as much time as possible to my studies and my business.

Upon receiving this offer, the old me would have given into the pressure and accepted it — despite knowing my priorities and already having established my decision.

Yet.

I rejected the offer. I knew that it would disappoint my friend, and I hesitated at first, but in the end, I remained firm in my decision.

I believe it was the best course of action because it ensured:

  • I stuck to my priorities
  • I respected myself (without harming others)
  • Being honest to my friend

If I became ‘nice’ and took up the offer, I would’ve turned into an inauthentic liar, and secretly resent my friend.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d 100% prefer the first scenario wherein I reject the offer.

So, this high agency thing is a part of my life now. I’m going to remember it until the day I die (hopefully).

It made me realize that being ‘nice’ and living in truth are different.

In a Medium article, which I still remember to this day, the writer talked about what it means to be nice and what it means to be good.

It’s written beautifully by the way (here’s the link to read it: https://medium.com/@marvelgomulya/dont-be-a-nice-person-9aa3f9bca28d)

But essentially…

Being ‘nice’ means to conform to societal standards. It doesn’t mean that you are doing the right thing. Rather, you are taking actions that will make you more acceptable by society.

This means that even if your circle loves to smoke, drink and have casual sex, and you are a ‘nice’ person, you would feel the strong obligation to partake in these actions (even if you don’t want to do them in the first place).

That is the dangers of being ‘nice’.

A quote that I like from the book “Hard Times Create Strong Men” explains this perfectly (paraphrased):

“Nice men aren’t good men. Nice stems from the world ‘lame’ (from Latin or Greek I don’t know)”

So from this point forward, I urge you to live in truth and goodness instead of niceness.

Learn to differentiate between ‘pleasing people’ and aligning your actions to your values.

If it betrays your values but pleases people.

Don’t do it.

The pain of living an inauthentic and pathetic life, far outweighs the temporary pleasure of being liked by strangers.

Stay good and true,

Arlo.

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