Drama. We hear people talk about drama with disdain. They’re drama-free. They hate drama. Dramadramadrama.
But really, what is drama? My friend fell into a rough patch with his girlfriend, and he rolled his eyes about her drama. I asked him what the definition of drama really is. He told me: “Getting upset over something that’s not real. Arguments that are created out of thin air. Getting upset over nothing. Anyone truly that sensitive must surely collapse when something real happens.”
Ah. I see. So I agreed that resiliency is good. We want to be, and we want to be with, people who can problem solve and recover from adversity. Perspective is good. And then it’s at this point I had to disagree with him on the rest of his definition.
See, everyone’s “real” differs. We all come with different upbringings and worldviews and strengths and weaknesses and preferences. We cannot all agree on what makes us tick or what makes us smile. What is very real in my life oftentimes isn’t even on your radar. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that makes the world so colorful and fun and interesting–the sharing of different perspectives.
So can it be instead that one can respect another’s feelings and perspectives about something, without agreeing with it; and we talk about how best to address it so it’s more of a communication issue than a power struggle of if something ought to rightfully bother someone else? Oftentimes the person just wants to be heard and validated.
This requires true empathy. It requires validating that someone’s feelings are real–and they are. Because if you tell someone they don’t have a right to feel a certain way about a topic, you’re invalidating a part of who they are. And that doesn’t feel good. You’re not really seeing who the person is then. Any parent can tell you this is true. Is it ridiculous that a child denied ice cream for dinner throws a tantrum in public with tears and fists flailing and feet kicking and howls of despair? Yes, yes it is utterly ridiculous. But is it real? Yes, unfortunately you are the asshole who has to deal with these feelings and behaviors being thrown at you. Try to tell that kid his feelings aren’t real. Try to dismiss that kid as “just being dramatic.” Try telling him to just get over it.
There’s also blame in using the word “drama”–we accuse someone of overreacting or that their feeling is not valid. When that’s not helpful nor kind. It may not be your reaction, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valid or real. If we want a different and more useful outcome, we ought to acknowledge a relationship takes both people to make or break, and blame only breaks. Kindness, compassion, and empathy allows for both people to decide to do another day together.
The dictionary definition of drama is: “a piece of writing that tells a story and is performed on a stage.” So in this stage of life, can’t we choose to create a drama that is a love story instead of a conflict? You are the director of your own stage, after all.