DR. WALLACE: I'm 14 and not the most popular girl at my high school. My counselor told me last week to stay as sweet as I am and never succumb to peer pressure.
Can you give me an example of peer pressure? I'm not sure I understand what it means. — Anonymous, Roswell, New Mexico
ANONYMOUS: Let's imagine that you have been invited to a party given by six very popular girls, and you want very badly to be a part of this clique. At the party, one of these girls lights up a marijuana cigarette, takes a deep drag and passes it to one of the other "popular" girls, who also takes a deep drag and passes it to yet another popular girl. Eventually all six girls have had a drag of the marijuana cigarette.
Then the cigarette is passed to you, and all six girls encourage you to "take a drag; you'll really like it." At that moment, you are experiencing peer pressure.
You really don't want to try it because you don't want to get involved with drugs, but you want to be accepted by the popular girls. If you did decide to take a drag, "peer pressure" would be the force overpowering you from doing what you know is right. This is but one example of peer pressure.
Peer pressure is a powerful force. It takes courage and lots of intestinal fortitude to say, "No, thanks," when tempted to join in and do something against your natural behavior.
SHOULD I CHANGE MY GOALS?
DR. WALLACE: I'm in the 11th grade, and I love animals — all kinds of animals. I have a dog, cat, horse and a little white mouse. Each one is precious to me. My goal is to become a veterinarian. That is, if I can overcome one problem: I freak out over the sight of blood.
Do you think I should continue to love all animals but change my goal? — Future Vet, Plano, Texas
FUTURE VET: Visit a local Humane Society and ask if you can volunteer to help the veterinarian who takes care of the health of the animals at the shelter. That way, you can ask questions and see for yourself if you could perform the same services if you were to become a vet.
Four hours on a few Saturdays would be quite valuable experience for you and a huge help to those homeless animals.
After that experience, approach a local veterinarian business and politely ask if you can volunteer to work or simply observe there for a few days, also. Do let the business owner and primary veterinarian know about your future career goals. Chances are that he or she will spend a little time with you to discuss experiences and insights relating to this particular career path.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.