What Mean Girls Doesn’t Show
The third post in our series, High School Survival Guide, gives girls and parents insight on how to stay focused on schoolwork in the midst of Mean Girl Drama. Teen blogger Kyra, who is experienced in this realm, also outlines how to regain academic focus, remove yourself from girl drama, and mediate your way to stronger relationships.
In my first post in this series, “High School: Real-Life Mean Girls?”, I mention how girl drama dominated a large part of my social life last school year. This personally affected me, just as with the characters in the movie Mean Girls, but what about my academics? That’s where Mean Girls missed the mark.
Without a doubt, all parts of life rely on each other. Between academics, a social life, family commitments, extracurricular activities, a job, and free time, they all are impacted based on time, effort, and availability. If one piece takes up all the time, the others would have to fit into a much shorter time period, taking away your availability and enjoyment of each. Because of girl drama, I spent so long worrying about and dealing with my social life that I had less time to spend with my family, on my own, and working on academics.
This is unavoidable in some cases, but I hope I can help you find ways to keep your life balanced.
Three Negative Ways Girl Drama Affected Me
- Avoiding People in Class
- Dealing with People During and After School
- Overall Stress
Before the drama began to unroll, I was really close to a girl I’ll call D, who I mention in one of my previous posts. We did basically everything together, and our relationship seemed beyond strong. So naturally, when it turned out that we had math class together, we were ecstatic. That was the single best thing that had happened to us in the short time period of our friendship. Nothing could go wrong. Right?
When the girl drama started to get more heated and less civil, I began to wish that I was in any other math class. I spent so long wishing, that I spent less and less time on my school work. I found it hard to concentrate on taking notes and learning pre-calc since I was worried about the girl sitting to my right all the time. Even if she didn’t mean to, she filled my consciousness. Between avoiding her and having to talk to her about what was going on, there wasn’t much time to work on school work.
So how do you avoid this problem? I could tell you to just block out the other person and concentrate on what is in front of you, but chances are, that won’t help. Friendship is complicated, so ending one can be even worse. So try the following during a break, the beginning of homework time, or any free time. Let your thoughts run wild. Think about everything that’s wrong and everything that you wish was different. Then, gently bring your mind back. Concentrate on what you’re working on, and what you are experiencing at that exact moment. Of course, the thoughts about your problem will sneak in, so notice them, but don’t buy into their drama.
Keep bringing your thoughts back to what you see and hear right in front of you. While this won’t fix everything, it will let you concentrate on your academics. This can also help outside of school when your thoughts just won’t let you concentrate.
I was lucky that my grades only suffered a little. There was a period of time in which I could not do my work and learn what I needed to. Luckily, I learned how to avoid girl drama distractions early enough that my grades did not completely fall apart. If you see your grades taking a turn for the worse, it’s okay to take a break from being social, as well as to get a tutor and just concentrate on school.
Another unfortunate part of my experience was how much time was eaten up by people and conversations that I didn’t really want to have. A lot of time they came up on weekends, but of course, the occasional one appeared while I was trying to do my homework or in the break of a class. These were bad times for me. I had to consider and deal with other people’s emotions while also trying to understand a brand-new concept in class. In my last post, my story about friends Y and Z perfectly illustrates this problem. All three of us were in Student Council, so we worked on a lot of school events and community outreach projects. We often worked together because we all got along and each of us brought unique ideas to the table. When the drama began between Y and Z, we were in the midst of a big project for the end-of-school celebration. Understandably, the atmosphere was not productive. Y and Z could not work together well, so I had to try to mediate an uncomfortable situation while trying to get work done. Nothing seemed to get done. It was frustrating.
These situations constantly seemed to come up, often over text or the phone, while I tried to function as a student should.
How can you avoid this situation? This one’s a bit harder because it’s easy to escalate the problem if you avoid it or put it off for another time. If uncomfortable situations such as this come up, remove yourself from the situation and encourage others to do the same. It can be good for a relationship to take a moment just to breathe and cool down. After this happens, a conversation about how to deal with the situation is necessary. Try to keep this conversation mature and calm, without blaming anyone.
You need to make it through the situation, and the only way to do that is by making it through. It’s as simple as that. The unwanted conversations are sure to come up, as well, and these can be hard to deal with, too. You will need to deal with these, but try to find a better time than in the middle of class or doing homework. It’s okay to plan them for later or to answer in short bursts when you have time. If these conversations start to escalate, take a break and come back to it later. It may make the other person temporarily mad, but in the long run, it could save the relationship or, in the moment, at least your nerves.
Girl drama is so stressful. This is obvious whether or not you’ve been part of it. And this stress can spill over into all parts of life. The stress from your social life can make school, your job, being around your family, and so many more things so much more stressful. Not only that, but it can erase your focus from the activity at hand, making everything less enjoyable.
It definitely doesn’t help that it is human nature for the mind to exaggerate things. A simple problem can seem like the end of a friendship because of how it gets blown up.
For example, I thought one of the girls in my circle, friend F, had started hating me because one day I thought she ignored me in the hall. It turned out that she just hadn’t seen me, but I had already spent two whole class periods wondering what I had done to make her mad. The stress is inevitable, so as long as you understand why these things are happening, you’ll learn how to avoid them and make the entire situation better for yourself. Just remember to take it easy on yourself; these things are natural!
Focus, Mediation & Being True to Who I Am: Four Things I Learned
While I was in the middle of the drama, life lessons seemed to be flying at me left and right. I learned a lot. But since the drama, I still use the lessons I learned on a daily basis.
A few of the most helpful lessons I learned are how to mediate situations, when to remove yourself from situations, and how to focus on what academically needs to be focused on.
Often these skills are learned from experience, but hopefully, you’ll be able to learn them from my experiences!
- How to Mediate
- When to Remove Yourself
- How to Focus
- Don’t Change Yourself for Your “Friends” or Friends
Mediating involves keeping a situation de-escalated while trying to talk and work through a conflict that has come up. It can feel like a three ring circus sometimes! Social problems are complex, so there’s a lot of stuff to try to think about and balance while mediating. Let me know if the following tips help you!
Tip one: stay calm. This part is so important since there can be a lot going on when you’re mediating. If you don’t stay calm, you likely will stop thinking clearly, and the situation can get a lot more stressful because people may stop listening to one another. You can help keep the others calm, too. Tensions likely will be high, so you should encourage everyone to say what they need to say, but without blaming or using angry words. By doing this, each party will hear what the others have to say, but be less likely to get upset at how they’re saying it. If the situation is escalating and getting too heated, you can suggest that everyone disperses to take a breather, then reconvene to try again.
Tip two: listen. You may not understand the position of each person in a given conflict, even if you think you do. If you listen to what they have to say, you will become more understanding of the problem, and they will feel heard and validated. You should also encourage the people in the argument to listen to each other. Problems arise when people interrupt each other, keep insisting on their position, and don’t stop the fight in order to hear what the other side is saying. For example, if one person is explaining what they feel or think happened and the other person interrupts, the first person will not feel heard, and the situation can escalate even more.
Tip three: focus on the problem. When trying to resolve a disagreement, it won’t be helpful to blame people or attack the other person in order to find a reason for the problem. It will be more effective to show the people in the conflict that you are trying to fix the problem, not them. In order to do that, try exploring why certain events keep happening instead of blaming them for doing it wrong. Also, make sure to keep the discussion focused on the original conflict and don’t let it spiral to other conflicts from the past. This happens more than you would think because people are attempting to prove that they’re right in all areas, not just the first problem.
Tip four: look to the future. Address the problem and talk about it but don’t dwell on it. Look at the past for learning purposes, but to solve the issue, talk about the future, too. Talk about how each party is going to respond to situations in the future and how they are going to treat each other differently in order to avoid conflicts.
Mediating takes practice. These are the first four steps toward making it effective. There are more, but these will get you started on your path to great mediation. Let me know how it works for you!
If you’re like me, you’ll want to do everything you can to fix everyone else’s problems. It’ll also take a while to learn how to take a step back and be okay with not being able to fix everything. I love that I learned this lesson because it applies to conflicts, feeling overwhelmed socially and academically, and so much more. Essentially, when your situation becomes too much or too hectic, it can stress you out and become dangerous for your mental health. It’s okay to back up and say, “Hey, it’s okay that I can’t fix this problem on my own, so I’ll wait until other people are willing to work with me.” You can’t make everyone want to fix the problem, so it’s totally okay to just wait until everyone else has the same desire as you.
I already explained the technique I use to focus, but I’ll reiterate it here just because it’s so important to find a way that works for you. So here are my steps:
a. Let your mind wander. To get it out of your system, think about everything you want to change and everything that’s wrong. Notice the thoughts you have, but don’t judge them or wish them away.
b. Bring your mind back. Don’t judge where your mind went. Just help it return to the project at hand. This can sometimes be hard depending on how pressing the issue is, but it becomes easier with practice (as does everything!). You may need to do this step a few times if your mind keeps running away.
c. Concentrate on physical aspects of your surroundings. This involves what you can see, touch, hear, smell, or even taste. (DISCLAIMER: Please don’t lick any people, books, or chairs around you.) Instead of being carried away by problems that don’t matter at the moment, this will help you become grounded and in touch with your physical reality.
Again, it’s so important that you practice techniques that work for you! I hope I gave you a starting place. Experiment with these techniques and be aware of what’s happening so you can be successful in the midst of drama.
I’ve always liked school. I love learning and exploring new concepts and becoming smarter and better equipped for the world. Before and during the drama, however, I found myself wishing that I was less nerdy and able to fit in more with my group. My group did not love school. Little did I know, being nerdy is not a bad thing. It is that quality that made me successful up to this point in my life. I work hard, do my best, and it pays off. If I had kept trying to fit in with the toxic friend group, I would not be who I am today. Stay true to who you are. If people don’t accept you for that, look for people who will.
Girl drama sucks! If you’ve never experienced it, I hope you figured that out from my last post. For a great book on the female brain and how critical relationships are to the teen girl brain (it’s a matter of survival), see The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D. (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2007).
Just remember: the drama will pass. You will make it through this and move on to better things and better relationships.
Which pieces of what you’re dealing with will matter once you’re out of high school? If you think about that, you’ll more clearly be able to figure out what matters to you and what things in life are really worth worrying about.
Being stressed makes everything harder. If you have any stress-reducing techniques you’d like to share, as well as questions, comments, or requests for future posts, let me know! Good luck, and update me on how these techniques worked for you!
Kyra is a junior at Fort Collins High School. She takes part in Student Council, Amnesty International, and the swim team, as well as choir and orchestra. Martial arts are a big part of her life, especially since she spent 10 years getting two blackbelts! Here at Pretty Brainy, she is the media intern, including managing social media and writing a blog. Currently, she is working on her High School Survival Guide. Feel free to suggest topics or ask questions!