A few days ago a friend on Facebook posted a status that said the following: “Being a 5th grade girl is not for the faint hearted”. I felt an immediate affinity to the post and based on how many comments accumulated under the post many other women identified with the feeling as well. When my niece, Lily, was very young (I want to say 3 years old) she told me a story about feeling like a girl at school didn’t like her because she didn’t want to play with her. After comforting her as best as I could, I turned to Jena and said, “The saddest part is that I can’t tell her that sort of thing is going to stop. In fact, it just gets worse the older she gets.”
In some ways that sentence is true. I am 26 years old and I still have to deal with what can be called “girl drama”; who is friends with who, who got invited where, who isn’t pulling their weight in the friendship, on and on and on and ON. It’s a generally accepted fact that girl drama is its own special and terrifying breed of horror. Anyone who has seen the movie Mean Girls know’s that this is true. What’s disheartening is that this attitude is no longer relegated to just high school, but increasingly to younger and younger girls until we have to admit that even 5th grade (even pre school!) is hard for girls. When I read that status I was instantly back in middle school feeling awkward and unsure of who I was, having no confidence that I could be myself, or frankly what my true self even was!
So, if things don’t ever change should we all just put our heads down and sink under the pressure of knowing we will never be fully happy as women? Of course not! While in some ways what I said to my sister is true; in other ways it does get easier the older that you get. The drama does not change (seriously it really doesn’t), but two other major things do change.
1) Your ability to choose the people that are in your life: In elementary school and even middle school there really is not much choice in who we are friends with. This is because most of us haven’t reached an emotional maturity that allows us to know what we seek in a friendship, and because of environment. (AKA you are pretty much stuck being friends with the people in your class at school, maybe a few people in your neighborhood, and if you are lucky some people at your church.) But, when high school and college come around your ecosystem gets bigger. You can choose who you want to spend time and who isn’t worth your time or energy. I don’t think I could tell you who was considered popular in my high school. I can tell you that I had a great group of friends who made me comfortable in my own skin. (As comfortable as any teenager can be of course). On Friday nights we were usually in the basement of Amanda’s parent’s house, unless it was winter in which case we went to jazz band competitions. I know it sounds really dorky, but we had fun. And I was comfortable. All that “drama” that comes from being a girl? I don’t remember dealing with any of that sort of stuff with these friends. Did we have silly fights? Yes of course. But overall it wasn’t nearly the stress that middle school friendships were. Of course there were still mean girls in high school, but they weren’t my only choice for a social life. That made all the difference. There is a second major thing that changes how girl drama affects you as you get older.
2) You care less about it: I’m not joking when I say the type of drama you see young girls dealing with never ends. Men you may find this hard to believe, but it is true. My mother deals with it, and my grandmother (who is in her eighties!) deals with it. Seriously, when we go visit my grandmother at her apartment complex I hear stories that could come right out of a middle school girl’s mouth. The difference is that after telling such a story my grandmother will literally shrug her shoulders and say “You know what? Who cares?” The good news about girl drama is the older you get, the less you care about it. I can’t stop it from happening, but I can stop how much time and energy I waste on it. I think this point is a direct result of point number one. When you have the freedom to choose your own healthy friendships you can ignore drama when it tries to drag your attention away from your normal life. I’m not a fan of women that say they “hate drama” mostly because I think deep down most of us do enjoy picking apart a scenario and figuring out its meaning. I think a better thing to say is that I hate unnecessary drama. Sometimes you are going to fight with your friends and you’re going to need to confront an issue with them to save the friendship. But that situation doesn’t have the same soul sucking capacity of drama with mean girls because there has been a foundation of friendship established that creates a safe space to deal with the drama.
To any young girl that is dealing with the difficulties that comes from adolescence, I know the above advice doesn’t help in the situation you are in right now. But, I know when I was going through the same situation knowing the above 2 points would have really comforted me. Sometimes just seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is enough to get you through the rest of the dark. And while you are still in the tunnel look around at the small points of light that do exist. During my middle school years I was lucky enough to meet my best friend AJ. Even in the midst of crazy drama, good things can still happen. Drama doesn’t change with age. Thankfully, we do.
How about my readers? Ladies do you agree that drama will always exist? If so, what are the ways you deal with it? Guys what are your thoughts on this crazy girl world phenomena? If you have a daughter what advice would you give her when dealing with the horror that is female adolescence?