While I haven’t posted a blog pertaining to sharing wisdom and encouragement during your college journey in quite some time, I have had a burden on my heart that I felt I should share. As the front desk receptionist on a college campus, I hear everything about everybody! This is a fairly small campus and so it seems that everybody knows everything about everybody and everybody feels the need to share everybody else’s business yet they find themselves upset when it’s their business that’s on display. It’s really similar to a scene from a high school themed movie like “Mean Girls” or “10 Things I Hate about You”.
Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t do petty drama. That’s why I have never felt an urgency to work with middle or high school ministries in church. However, I love college students and I love working with and ministering to college students. I feel like this is the most important time of your life and will be the most memorable time of your life as well. With that being said, if you allow your time in college to be wrapped up in social situations that reflect much too closely to high school, your experience is going to memorable in the wrong way. I’ve come up with a few tips for those students that want to avoid the drama but find themselves caught up in the middle of it.
1. I’ma do me, and you do you.
It’s as simple as this little phrase that people use who are usually the ones right in the middle of the drama. If you can sleep at night knowing that you’re living your life with integrity, that’s all you need to worry about. The only thing we can control in this life are our actions and reactions to life’s circumstances. If you focus on living a life that you can be proud of, making choices that are a reflection of whatever belief system you value, that’s all you need to worry about. Don’t worry about how others are living their lives and the choices that they’re making. If you want out of the drama, take yourself out. You’re in college to get a good education and while friends and fun are all wrapped up in college life, keep your eyes on what you’re there for. Take yourself out of those social situations that are giving you a headache.
2. Stop running your mouth.
Gossip is the nastiest thing that can come out of your mouth. It’s gross and it’s mean. If it’s not your story to tell, keep it to yourself. You can’t control what other people are saying but you can control what hearsay you’re spreading yourself and it can stop with you. Think about it, if everyone would let the stories stop with them, you’d hear a lot less gossip.
3. Everyone has a story.
Everyone has a story, a reason for how they got here and how they have turned out to be the person that they are. Sometimes it’s no excuse for how they’re acting but having compassion on people can go a long way. You have no clue the life that someone has lived and why they make the choices that they’re making. You have a story too and I’m sure your journey hasn’t always been a breeze so rather than harboring negative feelings towards someone that you really don’t even know, take a second and have a little compassion.
4. Take a deep breath…
It’s so easy when you’re frustrated to post a status/tweet/photo as a way of expressing that frustration but in reality, you’re just stirring up more drama. Take a deep breath, examine the situation and evaluate your thoughts before you post anything that the world can see. This can go as a golden rule of being an adult that even most adults haven’t learned. It’s not worth the extra drama just because you feel like you have something to get off your chest. If it’s that important, be a man/woman about it and confront that person privately.
5. Rules of Confrontation…
- I’m all about some healthy confrontation when there’s an issue. Open and honest communication is a beautiful thing. However, think about the person you’re confronting. Think about the situation causing the conflict. Is it really worth it? Is it really going to accomplish anything? Is it just going to stir up more trouble?
- If it is worth it to you then do it respectfully. Have a respectful adult conversation about the situation and when it’s over, move on.
- By moving on, that means truly forgiving that person and not talking about it anymore and never bringing it up again.
6. Forgiveness vs. the burden of holding a grudge…
This is probably one of the biggest causes of drama. The inability to let things go and move on creates a grudge. A grudge is like baggage. Life’s journey has enough burdens on it’s own and harboring grudges is just excess baggage that you’re having to carry around. Your back is going to get tired unless you learn how to forgive people, let go of that grudge and move onward on this journey. This world is full of imperfect people and things are going to happen, people are going to make bad choices, and they are going to disappoint you. That’s just life and you’ll live a fuller, happier life if you learn to let go of those things and not hold a grudge.
7. Look for the good.
This may sound cliche but think about it. We’re all imperfect people and we’ve all done things we’re not proud of. At the same time, we’ve all got some good in us, too. Instead of criticizing someone for their imperfections, look for the good in them and focus on that. If you can’t find it then you probably don’t know them well enough to be criticizing them anyway so maybe start there. Get to know people for who they really are, let go of your preconceived notions that stemmed from nasty gossip and focus on the good in people. You want people to see the good in you too but they won’t if they never see you practicing this in your own life.
8. Own up to your mistakes.
If you take a second and are honest with yourself, you’re most likely involved in the drama you’re in because you have put yourself in this position. Sometimes no but usually, yes. You said something about someone that you overheard from someone else but it got back to them that you started the rumor. You didn’t say anything at all but you were hanging out with people while they were gossiping and so you’re associated with them and are now involved. Maybe you really didn’t do anything at all but whether you think that you did anything wrong or not, humbling yourself and making an apology can go a long way. Own up to your mistakes, make it right with that person, and do your best to not get yourself in those situations again.
9. You know who is starting the drama…
Look around. Who is the one person that is constantly in the middle of the drama? There’s always those people that say they hate drama or they’re tired of it when, in reality, they’re the ones that are causing it and love to keep it going. It’s not that hard to just not associate with them. Do your homework instead of hanging out in their dorm. Turn off your phone. Maybe get some extra sleep; college students get less rest than any other demographic with the exception of parents of a newborn. If enough people stop hanging out with those people, they’re going to get the hint and if they just won’t leave you alone, tell them the truth, with love.
10. Surround yourself with good friends…
I firmly believe that college is a time of your life where you have a choice between hanging out with people that are going to bring you down and investing in quality, encouraging friendships that will last your entire life. Seek out those friends. They’re out there, you just have to find them. Maybe you’re getting wrapped up with the wrong people because you’re participating in less than wholesome activities.
I hope that you don’t need this blog but in the event that you do find yourself caught up in drama, my prayer is that you’ll be honest with yourself and reevaluate your life and the way you relate to people in terms of avoiding drama. College is not supposed to be like this. Take control of your college experience and make it the best of your life!