No More Drama
It’s nice to recognize growth and change in yourself, but when your past makes a social call, I find it’s challenging to hold fast to what’s-real-in-the-present and not get pulled backwards by the winds of where-you-once-were.
I’ve always loved helping people. My whole life I’ve been attracted to people who like to think deeply and chew on the world’s challenges – devouring them like a dog with a chew toy. When friends had problems, I’d sit and listen for hours on end. We’d analyze and sort and pull the issues apart, piece-by-piece. When I had, what I perceived at the time to be “problems”, my friends would do the same. We’d relish in the exploration and together try to find a way to feel better in the mess that we were weirdly savoring – enjoying the sense of connection in our adversity. Elevating one another’s “rightness”. It was the best entertainment we could find. There were always the “bad guys” – who had somehow “wronged” us; and twists and turns in the plots of our lives that kept the drama alive and gave us a reason to continue to check-in and update one another on the latest intrigue. Our view of our own heroism kept us blind to how we were simply enabling one another and wallowing in our negativity. Our victimhood safely hidden when we looked in the mirror.
These were patterns that had been established over decades. As time passed, we’d see each other less frequently. Sometimes months would go by. Sometimes years. But each time we’d see one another, it would all fall back into place – each of us playing a familiar role and taking our turn in the mini-series of our lives.
Until one day, after much time had passed, it stopped feeling like a good thing. What used to feel like “connection” started feeling unhealthy. Heavy. Like a cream sauce that was once delicious in my 20’s, it felt like something that I knew wasn’t good for me and it made my stomach hurt when I ignored my instincts and indulged.
And when I stopped playing the role I had always played – agreeing and empathizing and splashing about in the muck – neither of us knew what to do with it. If I couldn’t conspiratorially participate in the play-by-play of the situation, refueling the emotion like gasoline on fire – then where did that leave us?
Over the past 10 – 15 years I guess I’ve changed. I’ve discovered that life, all on it’s own, is going to be challenging and that there’s no reason to make the journey any more difficult than it already is going to be. I’ve learned the world is overflowing with wonderful, interesting, and uplifting people, and experiences, and viewpoints that I totally miss when I’m focused on all that is wrong, and bad, and ugly. I’ve met people who have, in the face of the most horrific circumstances, shown grace and heart and beauty – infusing the world around them with such positivity that they inspire everyone they meet. They make me want to be a better me.
And as I ask myself, “Who do I want to be?” I realize that with my answer comes a responsibility. One that, perhaps, I didn’t fully understand until this very moment I typed it.
Think about the enormity of that. The responsibility to become the person we want to be in the world is ours and ours alone. What does that require?
For it’s easy to engage in negativity, and blame, and gossip, and snarkiness – to be the victim in our own stories of good and evil – but in the end we find ourselves covered, like a bird in an oil slick, unable to fly.
Who is the person you want to be in the world? What does that require?
To be the person I want to be, I’ve decided it’s better to leave the drama on the stage.
©OnStage Leadership, 2014
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Kimberly Davis is the Founder/Director of OnStage Leadership, a full-day experiential leadership workshop. Click here to read what people are saying!