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“If Susie jumps off a cliff, are YOU going to jump off a cliff”?

A question for you parents (let’s all be honest here): have you ever found yourself saying something along these lines to your kids? Fearing the day peer pressure creeps in and gets the best of ‘em? As mothers of teens, I hope and pray and cross every finger and toe that my kids will avoid the alluring temptations and bad decisions of their peers. 

But for some reason, as a grown woman, I find myself continuously caving to the sweetly spoken persuasions of the “Susie’s” of the world.

Because yes, I WOULD follow Susie off a cliff. In fact, it was Susie who showed me how to tie myself in before I stepped off the edge. I hollered like a wild woman, dangling off a rope the width of my pinkie, the ground so far below I couldn’t see where I would land.

Susie brought tools and helped me chip away at the ice that covered a winter lake so I could soak my bones while it snowed--she even held my hand while we lost circulation in our toes! 

Every single summer Susie somehow convinces me I can click my feet into bike pedals and ride much too far and much too fast, without enough water over terrain that is nowhere within the spectrum of my biking capabilities. Elbows bleeding and lips cracked, I just can’t say no. 

A few weeks ago, I hung up the phone after talking to my friend Tanae (but we can call her Susie this time), and thought…”what did I just commit to?” It was an idea just dumb enough to still be classified as some kind of fun, so I obviously couldn’t turn it down.

“Come run forty miles with me for my birthday!” She said so sweetly, as if we were simply meeting at the park for homemade cake and conversation. 

“I can’t run that far...I’ve never run that far”. 

“Yes you can”. 

“OK. See you tomorrow”. 

I didn’t even put up a fight. 

By the time I arrived at her house the next day, the run had been rounded up to fifty miles, because that’s what Susies do.

I went to bed at midnight, and woke up at 3am, wide awake staring at an unfamiliar ceiling thinking OH DEAR WHAT HAVE I DONE?

This would be THE bad decision--the time that peer pressure finally did me in. 

I tossed and turned until my alarm sounded at 4:30. 

I guess I’m doing this, I thought.

And you know what? I did it. I ran 52 miles.

I’ll spare you the day’s worth of details, because honestly, it was mostly just running. And running. And running some more, one foot in front of the other. Lots of talking, time to cover a wide variety of topics as our feet slowly shuffled through the dirt. Stopping to stretch. Dunking faces in the creek. Eating mouthfuls of watermelon and the bestest most deliciously salty chips I’ve ever tasted, then back to running again. And the whole time I kept checking in with my brain because, HOW AM I DOING THIS?! I AM DOING THIS! WHY HAVE I NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE, AND WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?!!

Thank you, Susie.

I am learning that it often takes the peer pressure of trusted friends--friends who sometimes believe in us more than WE believe in ourselves, to get us just far enough out of our comfort zone to the place we can start to realize our potential: the cliff’s edge.

I hope and pray and cross every finger and toe that my kids find these kinds of friends--the Susies of the world-- and follow them right off the edge...that’s where all the best things happen.

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