After reading The Wave by Todd Strasser, in which an influential student convinces others to behave like Nazis, this student reflects on her own experience with peer pressure and her desire to fit in. Once, when she heard her friends talking about shoplifting, she felt that she, too, had to shoplift to be cool. She went to the supermarket with her parents and was caught stealing make-up by the security guard. The experience left her shocked and deeply humiliated. She felt that she was being treated as a criminal.
Once again, Ms. Gruwell’s choice of literature proves particularly impactful for her class, since this student uses a book to reflect on her own actions. This student evokes the difficult balance between fitting in, adopting a group identity, and remaining true to her own self. This tension is evident in the humiliation she feels when she tries to blindly imitate her friends’ actions.
As she left the supermarket, she realized that trying to impress her friends was silly, since her friends weren’t even there to see her and she could get anything she wanted from her parents. At home, her parents talked with her and made her feel upset. She realized that she had disappointed them, and that she had behaved like someone she was not. She vowed never to do anything like that again.
Her parents force her to realize that she is accountable both to herself and to them. However negative her experience might have been, she finds positive inspiration in the knowledge that she must remain true to herself and not act according to other people’s actions or beliefs.