At the dawn of my senior year in high school, I had a crush on a boy. He was nice to me and listened to good music, so of course, I was smitten. It was a much simpler time.
I would get a rush anytime he texted me to talk about music, make plans with friends, or talk about upcoming youth group events. So, you can imagine the devastation I felt when I received a single text message that shattered my hopes of happily ever after with this fella, a text message that read, “So you’re friends with Sarah right? Is she single?”
I responded to the text, letting him know he could ask her out if he wanted, threw down my phone, and promptly began to weep as I cracked open the Book of Job — you know, that book of the Bible where Job experiences what it’s like to be abandoned by God? I begged God for some kind of consolation during this great trial of mine, because that’s what drama queens do.
…I may have been/still am a bit of a drama queen.
But, my time as a drama queen taught me a few things that calm me down when I’m reacting like a crazy person to the things going on in my life. If you’ve found yourself overwhelmed by the drama of life or if you’ve ever felt your reaction to things is a little crazy, these lessons are for you:
1. Boyfriends or girlfriends aren’t worth giving up lifelong friendships
I spent so much time in high school worrying if my crushes knew who I was, liked the way I looked, or thought I was cool that I didn’t have as much time to make as many amazing memories with my closest friends as I could have. So much of the time I spent with my friends revolved around whether or not my crush of the moment would be present or not. Those crushes were so fleeting and meaningless, and in retrospect, I wish I could have back some of that time to invest more intentionally in those friendships. I’ve learned that true friendships are the relationships that matter most, and prioritizing dating over friendship is never going to end in a healthy, romantic relationship, just a broken friendship.
2. Excellence is way more attainable than perfection
I have perfectionist tendencies. In high school, I was the kid that cried over a B. In college, I was the kid that didn’t get a B. I put all my worth in my ability to attain what I thought was perfection because perfection seemed like the only option. So when things didn’t go as planned, when things weren’t perfect, I felt worthless. But, here’s the thing: I easily lost sight of what was going on around me — I would study for the A, but wouldn’t actually learn the material. When I surrendered to the fact that perfection wasn’t a fair standard for myself, I found that striving for excellence — giving the tasks before me a due amount of effort — was incredibly freeing.
3. Caring too much about what people think (or what God thinks) robs them of getting to know the real me
I’ve spent a lot of time hiding my true self because I was so concerned that my true self wouldn’t be accepted. I hated raising my hand in class because I didn’t want to say something dumb. I wouldn’t tell my friends how I was really doing because I didn’t want them to know I wasn’t doing well. I refused to let God into my heaviest sins because I didn’t think He’d be proud of me. I hid, and as a result, no one was ever able to get to know the real me. I kept everyone, even God, at a safe distance so they couldn’t see my flaws, but this meant they also weren’t able to see or love the real me. I realized that I had to let people see the whole me, mess and all, and give them space and freedom to love me. In realizing that, I learned that my authentic self, with all my imperfections, is far more incredible than this fake persona I’d tried to live as.
4. Most of the things that have stressed me out, upset me, or made me cry, haven’t had a lasting effect on me in the grand scheme of things
There are definitely dramatic moments that do matter in the long run, but honestly, if I listed out all my most dramatic moments, I’d say that less than 5% were things that actually had a long-term effect. For example, a few months ago I hit a gate with the side of my car. I immediately started weeping over the nice, new dent on my vehicle. Even though that felt like a big mistake in the moment, even though I felt like people would think I was dumb, a bad driver, or irresponsible, and even though I cried about it, that dent in my car doesn’t severely affect me today. Yes, there will be things that feel pretty rough, but that feeling won’t last forever and life will get better. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by something, I find myself asking, “Is this going to matter six months from now? One year from now? Five years from now?” More often than not, the answer is no.
5. Nobody really knows what they’re doing
When I was a kid, I thought that by the time people were teenagers, college students, and certainly adults, they had life figured out and knew what to do in any given circumstance. I now know that idea is BALONEY. The whole human experience is about trying, failing, and trying again. When I learned this shortly after high school, I began to embrace that experience and surrender to the fact that I’ll never have it figured out, and that’s OK as long as I keep striving for excellence, virtue, and holiness.
6. Jesus Christ is Lord
If you didn’t take anything away from the previous five points, I implore you to consider this last one. Jesus Christ is sovereign Lord. The Catechism assures us: “God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end. Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence” (CCC 301). God holds us in existence at every moment; we are all utterly dependent on Him. When we surrender to that reality and trust that He is good, that He is sovereign, and that He is Lord, nothing we do or experience can shake our confidence. And it’s in that surrender that the melodramatic lady in me is able to calm down and remain unfazed by the drama of life.