Healthy Soul/High School/Living Out Your Faith/My Life/Teen Life Feed Your Drama to a Llama by Joel Stepanek “I can’t wait until next year – people will be more mature and way less dramatic.” One of my best friends said that. In middle school… …on the last day of 7th grade. “Ugh, people need to grow up. I can’t wait to graduate and get to college where there will be way less drama.” My girlfriend at the time said that… …the last day of my senior year. “People are so petty and superficial. No way people act this stupid at an actual job.” My roommate said that as he complained about his campus job… …the last week of his college career. As I think about each of those people, I realized something really funny: My best friend in middle school experienced just as much drama in high school. My girlfriend in high school found herself surrounded by immature people in college. My roommate dealt with stupid people at his “career” job once he graded from college. If you’ve ever found yourself saying, “I can’t wait until _____; I’m tired of all the drama of the people I’m around now,” or something like it – I have really earth-shattering news: Dramatic, superficial, argumentative, frustrating and immature people never go away. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what grade you are in, what job you work, where you go to school, or what town you live in – there are always going to be people that make you wish you were somewhere else. There is always going to be drama. Actually, that isn’t the earth-shattering part. This is: You might be one of those people. “What, no, you jerk-face… stupid writer, Life Teen, guy. You are wrong and I hate you. I’m not the problem – THEY are the problem.” I appreciate your sentiment, but follow me: If you constantly find yourself surrounded by drama – frustrated by people, always in fights, constantly battling gossip, or in situations that seem like they are out of the Bachelor, Bachelorette, or Survivor – the problem might be you. That may be a hard reality to accept, but recognizing it is part of the battle. We can’t control the actions of other people. Everyone has free will and everyone can make decisions for her or himself. If someone chooses to gossip around you, there are things you can do to encourage them to stop – but they may ignore those suggestions. What you can control is your response. Do you engage in the gossip? Do you add to it? Do you encourage it? These are reactions you can change. Drama breeds drama. If you are find yourself surrounded by dramatic people, chances are you are also dramatic. At some level, you may even enjoy the drama – until it blows up in your face. Then you hate the drama. Then you can’t wait to graduate. Then you can’t wait to “move on.” I want you to move on from drama, but it means changing some things about yourself, first. If you really want to live drama free, fear not – there are some fool-proof ways to do it: 1) Acknowledge you are part of the problem. Even if you aren’t the instigator, very few non-dramatic people are victims of drama. Sure, there are situations we can’t avoid or we get sucked into. But, I bet if you look at the last five frustrating situations you’ve been in that involve “drama” you were at least a small part of the situation 4/5 times. In fact, if you can think of five recent times you been involved in some kind of dramatic situation, well, I don’t really have to say anything more, do I? 2) Choose to respond positively. This is an active choice you make every morning. And every night. And in between, you make this choice every time a situation for drama arises. Here is the truth: If you’ve been around drama long enough, it has become your standard operating procedure. You are going to engage in gossip, or rumors, or anger, or sub-tweeting without even realizing it – unless you choose to be aware and consciously decide against drama. Think through dramatic situations before they come up and imagine the best way to respond. When the situation comes up, you will be far more prepared to react appropriately. 3) Put your phone away. Think about those five situations again. How many of them happened after 9:00 PM and involved your phone? I’m only guessing, but I bet it was more than half. People at night are frustrated by homework, friends, parents, chores, practice – whatever, and the worst place for that frustration to come out is digitally. Unfortunately, it is also the easiest. Sitting in bed late at night thumbing through your archenemies’ Instagrams is a recipe for disaster. Put the phone away after 9:00 PM, or at least highly limit the use of it. Not only will this reduce drama, but it will help you sleep better, too. 4) Ditch your dramatic friends. So maybe your friends are part of the problem. After all, drama finds drama. If you strive to live drama free, you are going to find your friends increasingly annoying and irritating. You are also going to find yourself drawn to new friends – people that are (you guessed it) less dramatic. It’s ok to let go of people that weigh you down with negativity. After all, if you stick around with dramatic people long enough, chances are good they will eventually turn on you and leave you behind, anyway. Walk away before that happens. 5) Thank God more. If you want to be a less dramatic, negative person then you need to take some time to connect with God daily through prayer and thank Him for what you have. Drama often stems from a feeling of envy, anger, or another negative emotion. Gratitude, especially gratitude toward God, combats those emotions. It is hard to gossip about a friend when you spend five minutes every morning thanking God for your friends. If you are tired of dramatic, negative people in your life, the best solution is to stop being one yourself. Once you make that change, you will find that a lot of other parts of your life start to change in really positive, amazing ways. If you are wondering exactly how to start – now is a great time. Commit to living the next 30 days drama free and watch how your world changes. In fact, let’s all get in on this together. Challenge yourself and a friend to living 30 days drama free and let us know how you are doing by using #DramaFree30 on Instagram and Twitter. A drama free life is waiting for you – go get it.