The One about being a girl

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?


5 thoughts on “The One about being a girl

  1. Nico says:

    I had a difficult time as a young girl. Drama, bullying, all of that negative stuff will always exist. And it’s especially hard for girls who are emotionally sensitive.

    I really have no idea what advice I’d give to a daughter. If she had one good friend, someone who came over for the requisite sleepovers, and had her over as well, I suppose I’d tell her that all I ever had was one great friend, and it’s really all I ever needed.

    I was unpopular and teased a lot in jr. high and high school. But because I had that one great friend, I look back on that time as really, really fun.

    Just as it was hard for me to grasp when I was younger, it’s hard to convince young people that in the long run, all of that silliness won’t matter to them even a fraction of what they feel now.

    • faceparts says:

      I think having that one close friend is a great help too! Popular culture makes a big deal out of a group of friends, but really my closest friends in high school were a pretty small group. Joining typical “loner” groups like choir and the school plays also helped me find like minded people to hang out with.

      You are so right though, I never believed the silliness wouldn’t matter in the long run and now of course I do!

  2. AJ says:

    Thanks, Janelle….:) I think we have the strength to deal with any drama that may come up with other girls because we have each other. I agree w Nico that if you have one really great friend, you can handle anything.

  3. Erica Whitmire says:

    Well said Nelle! I don’t remember ever being bullied, but my brother was bullied all through school because of his disabilities. Being the one to stand up to bullies at my brothers expense was something I didn’t think twice about, and still wouldn’t to this day. It’s sad to know that bullying starts at such a young age, but I think if you can stand up for one person in one school, just to make their life a little easier, than it’s worth it. Unnecessary drama will always exist, but it just takes one person to stand up for the bullied. I think this matter is just as prevalent in men. Although they may not admit it, men/boys are bullied just as much as girls. If I had to give advice to a young boy or girl who is being bullied, I think i’d say try your best to rise above the words being thrown at you. Are these words true? 99.9% of the time they aren’t, so don’t listen. I’m sure it’s easier said than done, but try not to let others know they are getting the best of you.

    • faceparts says:

      Thanks for the comment Erica! You are so right that boys go through the same sorts of things as girls. I’ve just noticed that the mind game type of bullying happens with girls more than boys. For boys it’s usually much more physical which is it’s own kind of horror for sure. I can definitely imagine you standing up for your brother and it makes me smile. Your advice is good too!

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