“It’s too much drama!” My daughter complains as she spills the details of a squabble she experienced in the park. I am not a proponent of the word since it perpetuates the myth that young girls and women are unable to get along with one another. Much to my dismay, I’ve heard this word too many times in adult circles, among family, upset friends and colleagues. A certain element of consternation accompanies any meaningful relationship – conflict doesn’t necessarily equate to drama – it is a pathway toward a dialogue about why point of views differ. It might mean potentially finding middle ground or learning to honor each other’s opinions by not only preserving your stance, but also respecting differences.
I’ve leaned into strong women all my life. My mother insists I take the higher road – striving to forgive and letting petty grudges go. I don’t always agree with her, but her gentle nudge to let go always hums in the background. I also remember the days when I laid in my maternal grandmother’s lap and she stroked my hair and doled out random pieces of advice like always try to see the good in people and if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep quiet. The lessons are simple and I try to honor what they’ve taught me. My tribe extends outside of my family. I’ve had so many supportive girlfriends show up when I needed them the most. When I was at a particular low point, one friend did not judge my situation, but offered complete support without coloring it with her opinions. Other girlfriends have uplifted me in other ways – whether they are proud of my writing accomplishments, the way I mother or compliment how I look in a new dress or hairstyle. All of these affirmations are equally important – because there are plenty of places and situations where we already don’t feel enough.
Does this mean I haven’t intersected with women who tend to gravitate toward discontent? The ones who aren’t ever satisfied or feel more empowered by belittling other women because they somehow feel threatened. The ones who are towing the line between saying one thing, but doing another. The ones who will betray confidences or stir the pot because they enjoy the sport of it. The ones who see social-climbing as more important than enjoying the connection and company of a good friend. As I’ve gotten older, the red flags become more apparent and I’ve decided (as much as I can) to stand outside of this vortex. I’ve withheld trying to label these behaviors as dramatic, but to recognize these are not qualities which are a great fit for me.
Midlife is liberating in that you have the knowledge to sift through what is important and make choices. There isn’t the mask of youth convincing you to fit in or pretend or wade in something that doesn’t feel right for you. The genuine friendships will likely persevere and these are relationships where there isn’t the need to live in the land of political correctness and the fear of causing conflict – sometimes friends screw up, say things that aren’t pleasant or reveal truths in a state of vulnerability. These are the same friends that aren’t afraid to admit their shortcomings and aren’t scared of apologizing.
I am banning the phrase “too much drama” in my household because ultimately I want my daughter to know girls and women will show up, be present and help her grow and form her tribe. There’s nothing like laughing and sharing and loving women who will not only have your back, but will also appear when you need it the most.
Beautiful. Thank you.
Thank you, Amanda. xo
Hmm. I definitely hear and understand (and agree) with your point here. My initial thought is that sometimes it seems like very little problems blown up into “big” problems do deserve the label of “drama.” I guess the problem is, then, that we all have a different definition of what is a “big” and what is a “little” problem. 🙂 You’ve given me some interesting food for thought. 🙂
You raise some good points about how different people define drama. What may appear “small” to me, might seem “big” to another. I think the key is trying to communicate through whatever the issue might be instead of jumping to the absolute worst conclusion.
I am familiar with both. My best friend and I have shared a friendship that withstood time and distance. I cherish it and the time we spend together. A beautiful post, Rudri. Xoxo
I am so happy to hear about your friendship, Ayala. It is awesome to have at least one person in your life who you can count on no matter what.
I’ve had many friendships throughout life, different bonds of connection. My current tribe only consists of a few of those people. I’ve found a tribe runs deeper than passing connections. It’s a friendship stronger than family. I say this because we don’t get to choose our family as we do our friendships. I agree conflict is a necessary part of life. However, I’ve found there is a big difference between conflict and drama. Drama is often about a certain person and you are not a part of it, only a witness. I have family members who travel with drama and try to suck you in to become a part of it. That kind of drama can be toxic. It doesn’t only happen with families. I’m sure most of us have had a friend or acquaintance at some time like that. I’ve learned to step away. Some dances are meant to be solo.
I like how you distilled the distinction between drama and conflict – sometimes though I think we forget a difference of opinion doesn’t necessarily mean you want to cause drama, you may just want exercise your voice. The relationships that allow this dialogue often are the ones that withstand disagreements and the passage of time.
Sometimes it seems that there are people who are always embroiled in drama. Always. And I think we have control over this. I have friends like that, and mostly, friends on more peaceful paths. It’s always interesting for me to see.
Unfortunately, I do agree there is a population that thrives on disagreements and drama. As I get older, my patience for unnecessary turmoil is limited. Glad your path is filled with peaceful energy!
This is wonderful, and make me very much look forward to the continuing process of maturing. Though I am still nervous about my daughter getting older!
It is great to learn about relationships through my daughter’s eyes and rediscover what is important to me regarding friendships and the people I want in my life. Always a lesson!
Oy, I’m right there with you in these discussions with my almost-nine-year-old. I hate to be so generalizing but my 11-year-old did not require the same discussions. He just didn’t.
It’s so hard to explain the nuances of the “drama” because I don’t even understand it sometimes!
Definitely something to think about! I have a 13 year old daughter who is calm and even keeled. I’m always saying that she doesn’t “do” drama. I’m going to have to think about all the messages contained in that statement.
I also like what you’ve said about certain qualities in discontented people not being a good fit for you. It puts a couple of relationships in perspective for me.
I am glad this piece helped you with some of your relationships.
Drama has evolved into such a negative word – I try to avoid it as much as I can.
It’s interesting to read this post after my evening yesterday, where 2 things happened: I felt self-conscious as a new parent at my child’s school and then made what my instincts tell me is a real friend. Just in general these days, I’ve been thinking about my evolving definition of and criteria for friendships that fit me. You’ve said it all so well here, Rudri.
I feel that drama is what happens when conflict is mishandled due to immature and unproductive interpersonal skills and communication. I thought I’d escaped it by this age, but I watched one episode play out right on my Facebook feed a few weeks ago, between 2 mutual friends, and instigated by a 50+ year old man. The “victim” then reached out to me to vent. I had to find a way to both stay out of it and show support to her.
It definitely takes some self-awareness and courage and lots of trial and error to be able to identify and make your own tribe. I know you’ll be a great guide for your daughter!
Thanks, Cecilia. It is so good to hear your voice in my space. I am sorry you got sucked into FB drama – I fear what will happen now that FB is introducing a dislike button. It will likely create more divisiveness. Sometimes it is hard to stay out of it, especially when a friend is asking for advice and trying to vent – You want to be a good friend, but still keep your head out of the conflict. I’ve decided if this becomes more of a trend with certain people in my life, I am going to distance myself from this energy. Life’s too short. Miss you! xo