For some, Aggieland is a place where their parents met. One man went down on one knee under the Century Tree to ask his girlfriend to be his wife. To others, it is a place where they went to football games and stood the whole time cheering with their friends. And for others, it might be where they marched with the Corps of Cadets to Kyle Field. All those things are some students’ experiences, and they might be the reasons why some people fight so hard to get into Texas A&M.
To me, a refugee of Congo, I never knew any of that. All I knew was that A&M was a good college. As a new refugee who experienced a lot of social change in high school and was thrown into another social change called college, I was in a new world. Nonetheless, I was just like any other young adult who just finished high school and is finally able to live on their own, excited but nervous at the same time. Excited for new experiences, but nervous because I didn't know what to do.
Just like any other student in any college, I had the desire to fit in. Everybody wants to be part of a group, and that is how peer pressure starts. Everyone wants to fit in, and sometimes we might forget what we believe in just so that we can fit in with a group. Peer pressure can be positive, but most of the time it is negative.
One of the ways that I avoided peer pressure and found myself through college was by talking to my parents. Peer pressure is usually hard to avoid because students have just left their homes and their parents are not there to watch over them. There's a feeling of independence that ends up being misused or turned into rebellion. Even as students, we remember our parents used to be teenagers and they might be more understanding than we think, so it is better to ask them for advice. As parents, they are our biggest fans, and it is good to utilize them if they are part of our lives. This helped me to keep my beliefs and not feel like I had to change.
Another way I avoided peer pressure was finding people who had similar beliefs as me. With that group, I did not have to change myself because we were similar. Since as humans we like to fit in, finding a group that already has similar beliefs makes life just a little bit easier because there would not be a need to change since you’re already part of the group.
But, the most important way to find myself in college was through having me time. Any time a person is in a setting with other people, he or she will be influenced, whether international or not. So having my time was the best way to not be influenced. It is a way to understand one’s mind. I could journal or just have quiet time without doing anything. To me, having personal time and getting to know myself better by journaling my ideas helped me understand that I did not need to fit in. I was new to this country, I was different, and that was ok. It is what makes me special, and if people do not accept me for who I am, then it is not meant to be.