Disclaimer: this isn’t a typical post about minimalism or organization. I won’t explain how to organize your sock drawer or let go of the Lego Star Wars collection you’ve held onto since middle school. (Note: If you are a Tie Fighter-loving member of the latter category, take my one-word advice: Craigslist. Then watch your date night roster fill up. Trust me on this.)
This post deals with a different type of excess that we should all ditch from our lives: drama.
You can say “save it for your mama” or try to avoid it, but the fact is: drama comes for all of us, at some point, somehow, some way. I usually pride myself on avoiding drama, but it still sneaks into my life… as it did this past week when I tried to redeem a hairstyling gift certificate I’d won at a silent auction.
I won’t go into the tedious details of this particular drama. You don’t really need to know everything that went down or the details of the long text messages sent back and forth. (If you really want to know, ask my husband, who was forced to listen to me indignantly reread the messages to him while he feigned interest. His body language said, “I’m listening and I care deeply about this major upset in your life” while his glazed-over eyes said “Please finish talking so I can escape to my man-cave and watch sports.”)
The gist of it is: I thought someone was trying to screw me over. I got righteous. I gathered “evidence” of this screwing-over (in the form of aforementioned text messages), I enlisted the support of friends who would naturally be on my side to reinforce my self-identified position of absolute rightness. I was prepared to quite possibly wound someone’s career in pursuit of said rightness by calling a supervisor and complaining. I was going to be “that girl,” the one I try really, really hard most of the time not to be.
And with all this self-righteousness, all this evidence, all this sense of personal entitlement, how did I feel? Downright terrible.
I actually spent one nearly sleepless night full of anxiety. The next day I felt nauseous and could hardly eat. And if you know me, you know I’m an eater. I even broke my rule about never passing up free baked goods and declined a perfectly delicious-looking chocolate chip cookie. It was horrible.
At the end of that day, I realized I needed to do one thing: drop it. Like a hot potato (Wait, no, hold on to that – those are yummy! Add some sour cream and chives and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded meal.) or a penny off the Empire State Building (No! Hold on to that, too! You could hurt somebody!) or an angry stray cat (Yes, drop that one, please). I needed to just drop this drama. I deleted the text thread I’d been clinging to for “evidence”. I crossed “Call salon manager” off my to-do list. I made peace with having spent a few dollars and receiving nothing in return, because actually I did get something: a very important lesson.
Somebody smart named Gandhi once said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This statement always gets me when I look at my kids. I want them to live in a better world than I do, I want them to change the world in positive caring ways, I want them to seek kindness and heal conflict whenever it is in their power. And thus, I must do the same.
Because really, my drama is essentially no different than anyone else’s. All human conflict could be summed up as such: I am right and they are wrong! How could they do that to me? I don’t deserve this! At best, this results in petty text messages sent back and forth between a hairstylist and a suburban mom. At worst, it starts wars. That might sound extreme, but if you look at the root cause of all human conflict, it stems from the same basic feeling: I’ve been screwed.
So I dropped my drama. And I felt a better. But then that Gandhi quote started nagging at me, and I did just a little bit more.
I took steps to heal it.
I sent another text message… and told her I was sorry… and that I wanted to try again… and perhaps could we still make this work, if it was okay with her.
And you know what?
She said yes. With a smiley face emoji.
So I have an appointment to get my hair done at the end of March. And hopefully that smiley face emoji is enough to ensure that the woman cutting my hair doesn’t wish me ill, that she, too, wants to find peace beyond the drama.
Because you know what Gandhi also said… Never let an angry person near your head with scissors.
Rose Lounsbury is the Dayton, Ohio area’s up-and-coming professional organizer. After blogging about her own journey toward a minimalist lifestyle, Rose was inspired to start Less, a minimalist-minded professional organizing company. If you’d like Rose’s help with an organizing project at your home or office, please call her at 937-626-9030.