For whatever reason, girls are associated with drama. Pregnant and having a girl? Oh, get ready for that DRAMA! I am a mom of two girls and I wouldn't have it any other way. And guess what? I have friends with sons and I can tell you they seem just as "dramatic" (dare I say it's normal human behavior to learn how to deal with big emotions? but that's a topic for another time.) I'm not writing to talk about whether boys are as dramatic as girls or anything like that. I want to talk about the girl drama amongst their friend groups that has become expected, and therefore written off as normal.
I came across a blog last week that gave this particular mom's opinion on "girl drama" and what she deemed an appropriate level of involvement in said drama. I don't entirely disagree with her opinion on not being involved beyond being a sounding board for advice and a shoulder to cry on, but there were aspects that I felt aren't beneficial for our daughters. While she says she will never call another mom about their kid's part in the drama the drama, I feel there is a line that can get crossed where that's necessary. She went on to say that when we get involved, it prevents our daughters from knowing how to handle people not like them and so on. Beyond that, and the whole reason I'm writing this at all, she said our daughters need friends who they've fought with, creating a "sisterhood forged in fire." As a girl who thought I had that sisterhood growing up, can we NOT?
The same day I saw that blog, I came across old writing and journals dating as far back as my 8th grade year of school. With the exception of some fun nostalgic pieces, what I found from that year up to my sophomore year of high school was the inner workings of a mind that was clearly not okay and, while I'm sure hormonal changes played a part, it was my group of friends and how we treated each other than created such angst.
Our "gang," as we called ourselves (think Scooby Doo "come on gang!" more than actual gangs), was known for our inner drama. Through the years, I had several journal entries that repeated the same idea: "we're fighting again." One particular entry detailed an account of a friend who left our group. Her reason for spending time with new friends? "They don't all hate each other." This was nothing short of treason to 13 year old me, but to 29 year old me, that's such a punch in the gut. She was right. It wasn't okay how we all treated each other. But we truly thought it was making our bond stronger. Creating that "sisterhood forged in fire."
By the time high school rolled around, our "gang" had mostly fallen apart, as it should have long before. Three remained, me and two other girls, my only "real friends." Things were worse, somehow, despite there being less than half the friends left behind. We isolated ourselves, hardly talking to anyone outside of sharing classes with them. The fighting continued, and it continued to take its toll on me.
The tipping point came one afternoon when they asked me to stay after school. They sat me in the teacher stool at the front of the room and sat in the empty desks before me. This was an intervention. They were telling me I was acting different, that something was obviously wrong with me and asked why I wouldn't tell them. I wondered how they couldn't see that my only problem was them. I didn't speak up, though. I've never been good at confrontation so I just sat there and took the humiliation. I went home and cried harder than I ever had up until that point in my life, wondering if there was something fundamentally wrong with me.
Our perfect little trio didn't last too much longer after that. Our fights transformed from being about all of us to me being the bad friend because I was starting to disengage. I wanted out, but didn't know how to leave. Where would I go? I didn't even have a regular table in the cafeteria because we ate lunch in a classroom (one of the girls' mom was a teacher). I felt like no one would get me the way they had. After all, we had forged our sisterhood in fire. But I did. I left the friendship. And honestly? My high school experience improved exponentially when I let go of that assumed obligation of sticking together because of what we had been through.
I made amends with most of these girls before high school was ever finished. I'm connected with most of them on social media now and I'm actually pretty good friends with the "leader" of our "gang," who was who I would say was probably the most toxic to me back then.
The maturity it took for all of us to come back from that dramatic whirlwind wasn't learned through our fights. It took individual growing. None of us were or are bad people. We just thought our fighting made us stronger, when in reality it made us toxic to each other. The drama was unnecessary. Some bickering could be expected, but we took it too far and developed unhealthy relationship habits instead. Again, it's very important to note that there was no actual benefit to sitting in this "girl drama" for YEARS. So why are we subjecting our daughters to the same thing?
Perhaps this mentality of "friendship IS drama" is why I've found myself in far too many "girl drama" situations than should be normal for an almost-thirty year old (ironically, in most situations, the women involved have been older than me). It's something I'm learning to avoid before it reaches that point via very strong boundaries. And I can tell you from experience, the drama I went through as a teen prevented me from knowing how to implement those boundaries until now. (There's no one to blame but myself for that, but it's important to realize.)
On the opposite end of the spectrum of girl drama, there's my relationship with my best friend. We've been instantly bonded since we first met nearly a decade ago. We consider each other extensions of ourselves. We're each other's platonic soul mates. The worst "fights" we've ever had is over differences of movie preferences. And it's not that we just ignore problems--there are no problems to ignore! We're similar in so many ways, and are just accepting of the things that make us different. We are physical proof that what society is telling us is not only normal, but vital for growth, is a fallacy.
So, no, don't call little Susie's mom the minute she says something mean to your daughter, but do more than the bare minimum to help them through their "girl drama." Show them it can and should be better. It's time to stop accepting this idea of dramatic friendship as normal and spreading it to our young daughters, especially when we have proof that we can have strong relationships without it. Let's give them better. Let's teach our daughters that friends can have disagreements, but they shouldn't constantly be breaking your heart and destroying your mental health.
Editing to add:
Since posting this blog, both of my parents have reached out to me saying they wish they had known this was going on to put a stop to it. The thing is, though, the simple reason they didn't know about it was that we didn't tell them. For whatever reasons bred into us from society, we thought it was normal. This was the same era that Mean Girls came out (a movie this group of friends actually went to see together, actually). While the movie is exaggerated, it shows you that society sees the drama as normal and sometimes just gets out of hand to the involvement of adults. Until that escalation, though, it's just in the world of the teens/preteens.
All the more reason to teach our girls ahead of time, so they know to come to us when it does happen. This wasn't on my parents for not seeing what I refused to show. This was on me for thinking it wasn't worth showing.
Hello! I'm Lindsey. I'm a writer with a ton of random thoughts bouncing around in my head. So I share them here in hopes that they reach others with these thoughts.