The pitfalls of peer pressure (for grown ups)

Sometimes life has a way of putting things into perspective.

I recently got dragged into a caryard to look at the 4×4 ute my husband insists we buy. My first reaction was disappointment: when you’re dropping that much money on a car, shouldn’t it have leather seats and other (undefined) luxuries? Apparently not, in the world of utes.

When he dug deeper into my predilection for cowhide seats, I had to admit, I just wanted them because our friends have cars with that kind of stuff. I don’t think of myself as competitive in a ‘keeping-up-with-Joneses’ kind of way – but perhaps I am after all.

The following week I had a great conversation with my mum and my Gran (who is in her eighties). We were asking my Gran about her early married life, just after WWII.

Firstly, she lived in Ingleburn (the middle of nowhere). In a garage. Post-war home-building went something like this: buy a block of land; apply to the government to buy materials; receive enough to build a one-room garage; wait several years for enough fibro to build a house (full of asbestos).

I always knew my grandparents started out in these humble surroundings, but I had no idea how long it was for – I guessed it was a year or so. No, it was more like five years. With two small children.

Then we asked about her daily life – like, how did you do laundry? Well, it started off with a wood-heated copper and hand-wringing (literally, not figuratively!). But when life really got fancy a couple of years later, Gran bought a wringer. So instead of a full-day job, doing the laundry was more like a half-day. Nice!

What really struck me about this story was Gran’s tone in telling it – a complete lack of dissatisfaction with her lot. At no point did she sound hard-done-by. When I asked her about this, she said, “Well, I didn’t think about it, because it was the same for everyone. In fact, we were quite lucky, because some of our neighbours only had tents to live in”.

I took away two things from this conversation. The first was a renewed admiration for my Gran and her generation. They just got on with things, despite a lack of space, comfort, help, air-con or Bugaboos.

The second was an appreciation of the power of peer pressure, which clearly isn’t limited to our teenage years. Sure, I don’t have friends influencing me to smoke anymore. But I do live in a sort of crazy world where my friends and I all have nice cars, big TVs and a full suite of Apple gadgets.

Which isn’t a bad thing in itself –  it’s just something we need to realise every now and then.  Remember when your mum used to say, “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you?”. If everyone worked long hours in a stressful job to acquire non-essential items, would you? Well, for the moment, yes.

Posted by Belinda Thomson

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    • Dee Jensen
    • August 15th, 2011

    beautiful Bo,thanks for a lovely insight.

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