The Common Enemy

Concerns About People Pleasing


Photo by Gabriela Whitt

People pleasing graphic illustration made in Canva by Gabriela Whitt.

People pleasing is a phenomenon that is no stranger to anyone. People constantly worry about the way they are perceived by their peers, and this causes many to feel the need to change themselves for their friendships. No one should feel the need to be someone else just to not be alone anymore.

The need to change yourself for others stems from a trait called sociotropy. Sociotropy is the idea that pushes people to become someone they are not to maintain friendships, or to receive approval from others. In fact, lots of high schoolers say that they have different personalities for each friend group they have, and they say that sometimes they mix up personalities with other friend groups and that causes the situation to be weird. Why do people not see the problem in this?

Each time someone new is met, another personality is formed to complement that person best. This creates a different person per friend group you have, so this can easily become too much to handle over time. The more people you meet, the less of yourself is going to be a part of you. It’s easy to lose yourself when you’re constantly faking it, and the saddest part is that these problems are rarely talked about.

Between school seminars about social media and drugs, people pleasing is widely overlooked as a thing people just do. The power people pleasing has on people, especially teenagers is underestimated and almost viewed as unimportant. However, it’s just the opposite. People pleasing can have long-term effects on a person’s mental health. It feeds anxiety, insecurity and discourages people from having their own sense of self.

We as a society need to shed light on people pleasing and the effects it has on the youth of today. As outlets like social media continue to set false expectations for teens, schools need to be sure to keep up. Take time to have guest speakers in for a quick talk at least once each year to bring attention to people pleasing in hopes that maybe one day, people won’t have to worry about not being themselves.