Saturday, June 24, 2017

Please Stop Using This Word

Drama, drama, drama.  Everything is drama.

I hate that word.

Oh, do you think I'm being "dramatic" when I say that?  Well, tough.  Maybe it's time you stopped pointing fingers and started listening.

This seems to be the typical reaction to any displays of negative feelings these days:

Person #1 - I'm really upset right now by events around me, or the people around me.

Person #2 - Oh cut the drama!

Another example:

Person #1 - I'm stating my opinion.

Person #2 - I'm disagreeing with your opinion.

Person #3 - Ooh!  Look at all the drama.  I am getting the popcorn to watch this unfold because it's all just entertainment.

Person #4 - Oh no.  It's drama.  I can't handle it.

What is "drama"?  In the true definition of the word, it is a form of entertainment that is meant to be mostly serious.  The feelings it are meant to evoke are not humor or warm fuzzies.  A play, television show, or movie that is considered a drama will generally leave us with uncomfortable feelings.  It may make us sad or angry or scared.  This isn't always a negative reaction.  There is entertainment and pleasure in sitting with these feelings for a while and then hoping the situations will resolve.

So what exactly are you saying when you accuse someone in real life of creating "drama"?

Are you saying she is putting on a show?

Are you saying his feelings are inauthentic?

Are you saying others' disagreements are somehow wrong and shouldn't happen?

Worst of all, are you saying that that such conflicts are happening for your own entertainment?

As I see it, when you accuse an aggrieved person of creating drama, you are trying to invalidate that person's feelings and experiences.  You are saying, "Stop it.  I don't like what you are feeling.  It makes me uncomfortable, so I'm going to tell you it's not real.   I am going to put my discomfort back on your and try to make you think your feelings are wrong."

Perhaps I'm being a bit too much of an armchair psychologist, but I consider myself a highly sensitive person.  I react strongly to emotions.  Many friends, family, and acquaintances think I overreact.  My emotions, no matter if they are positive or negative, are always large and expressive.  I can never hide how I feel about something.  On the good side, I feel it makes me more empathetic.  I have learned to make peace with this.  I am who I am.  However, throughout my life, I have often been accused of being "dramatic".  I suppose there are times when this label was warranted as I have always been attention-seeking (and the armchair psychologist in my suspects I may suffer from Histrionic Personality Disorder), but seeking attention and having authentic strong feelings are not mutually exclusive.

I want you to consider a few points the next time you want to accuse someone of drama:

Did the person's feelings seem authentic?
Yes, you may feel someone overreacted to a situation, but is that feeling genuine?  Don't judge the expression.  Judge the emotion behind it. Just because you do not have the same reaction to a situation doesn't make another's reaction invalid.

Why does this affect me?
Is there a reason why you want to invalidate someone's feelings?  Does a person's point of view make you uncomfortable?  Do you fear conflict?  Do you simply dislike it when someone disagrees with your point of view?  Perhaps brushing off someone's feelings as inauthentic makes you feel more secure in your own position. Remember, you can't control others' emotions.  You can only control your reaction to them.

Is conflict is present, is it automatically bad?
Conflict is part of life.  Humanity is diverse.  There are many ways to live and many ways to think.  Life would be pretty boring if we all thought and felt the same way about everything.  In any given group of people issues will arise and opinions will be divided.  Sometimes it can be ugly.  There are also times when it can solve problems and bring enlightenment.  Whatever the case, to the people involved in a conflict, it is real.  It is not drama.  It is not meant for your entertainment.

If you are one of the people involved in the conflict, you will not solve anything by accusing your opponent of drama.  His feelings are as legitimate as yours.  Again, learn empathy.  Learn compassion.  If that is too difficult (and I will happily admit sometimes it is) then learn to just walk away.  Again, you can only control your reaction.  You can't control other someone's feelings, so don't try.

Feelings are feelings.  Emotional expressions happen.   You have the right to feel uncomfortable with other people's emotions.  You also have the choice as to how you react and you have the choice to walk away.  Please just accept this and stop calling it drama unless it's on the stage or screen.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Who Am I Online?

Sometimes I feel weary of hiding.

When I make social media posts, I am always cognizant of who will read it.  What will readers think?  Will they be offended?  Will they still like me if they post it?  I want people to like me.

What do I do to stay safe?  I don't always say what's on my mind.  I have come up with blog post topics that I would never dare publish.  I have hidden my opinions behind metaphors.  I have specific lists of friends who can only see certain Facebook posts.

When you see me online what do you see?

The girl who is obsessed with food?

The horse girl?

The theater girl?

The smart aleck?

Maybe you don't want to see:

The feminist.

The secularist who wishes you well, and will help you in any way she can, but will not pray for you.

The patriot who believes that the tide of progress can not, and should not be stopped, who believes that one should understand the line between patriotism and jingoism, who believes the government and the American people need empathy more than they need religion, and who believes diversity is the true strength of this country.

What is my fear of what will happen if I show everyone every aspect of myself?

Why do I fear rejection so much?

I am not just one of these traits above.  I am all of them.  All of these parts of my personality, my belief system, my values, are part of a larger whole that makes up Rachel.  If you want to be friends with me, you shouldn't pick and choose what you want to be friends with.  I want you to want to be friends with all of me.

I accept the people in my life in their entirety.  We can't love everything about every person we know.  Have I ever stopped caring about someone just because I didn't like what was on his or her Facebook timeline, or Instagram and Twitter feeds, or posted in a blog?

Why am I so afraid others will treat me this way?

More importantly, why would I want to be friends with someone who can't be friends with all of me?

Tomorrow will I post something you don't want to see?  What do you want to see when you see me?