I find the whole idea of peers to be interesting. I find it interesting that adults have this image of shoving a bunch of the same aged kids together and then "poof" you have peers.
For me the word peer implies equal. Now I'm not trying to say that I don't find my supposed 'peers' to be on the same mental plane as me. Not at all. However, I do want to imply that I don't think that peers are really defined by what age they are. For me I count my peers to be those who have my same interests, who have similar personality traits, and those who understand where I am coming from.
I find it strange that we are expected to have peers from our own grade. I find it slightly silly that many people seem to think that age difference (or grade difference) makes somebody not your 'peer.'
Now that you know where I am coming from, I will say that I have a problem with this idea that peers are your age. I think it is a problem because in many ways it tells teens, who are slightly different then the kids they know their age, that something is wrong with how they think. Or, not necessarily wrong, but that they have to change if they want to get along with their 'peers.'
I think that most of the pressure we have as teens to 'fit in' comes from the fact that we feel that those our age must be our peers. If we don't think conventionally then we think something is wrong. I think that people have this inner source that makes them desire other peoples company. We all desire to have peers. But, I think that the idea that this urge and desire should lead us only to people are own age... its silly.
For a little while, when I was in Maryland, I was in a homeschool girl scout troop. It was really fun until the girls all hit about 9, or 10. Suddenly we had the outgoing girls being 'popular.' The shy girls formed their own group, and the girls in-between just got to do whatever they wanted. It was strange to watch as the in-between girls slowly made themselves more outgoing or more shy. It was a barely noticeable change, but I saw it. They changed because they knew who their 'peers' were, and they wanted to fit in and to be good friends with them.
I never fit in with either group really. I never wanted to. I had friends in both groups and I was fine with hanging with all of them. I stayed true to who I knew my real peers were in the beginning.
I think people should change their image of peers. We should stop thinking that peers are our age, and start thinking more along the lines of peers being those like us.