Updated: Apr 16, 2019
If you're a woman in your 20's or 30's you've probably been called and dread the words "drama queen". Top definition for it being: people (mostly girls - but boys play their part) who like to blow everything totally out of proportion. Since teenagehood you know it's not cool to be that and we're all trying to avoid that ever since. Well you know what, I'm going to make some drama about that.
As girls, while growing up we hear so many things that essentially teach us how to shut up, ignore our feelings, be nice and of course, the most important - SMILE (boys hear different kind of nonsense that can lead to forced gender roles and stereotypes too). Throughout the years the messages we receive become more and more confusing to say the least: from "be nice" to "don't be shy" but "don't be too loud", from "you're too much" to "you're not enough". If you're too shy and quiet in Lithuanian we call you "grey mouse" (I don't know how that makes sense because if you ever had mice in you're house, you know they're nowhere close to being quiet..), if you're too loud.. well, we say "drama queen" (with Lithuanian accent).
Honestly, I can’t imagine what’s that perfect middle ground that society/parents/advertisement wants us to be? A woman who’s nice and calm, but ambitious, but not too ambitious so she wouldn’t scare others, with a little bit of make-up but god forbid not too much, with a skirt, but not too short, beautiful but also smart, serious but also chill… Well you see where I’m going. For such a big part of our lives we're trying to decipher those messages and expectations not being able to create anything for ourselves or to feel powerful.
Talking about gifts from the family, I was the oldest kid and when my sister was born I took care of her since I can remember (I probably was the smallest nanny on the block). Alongside with that I started feeling responsible for my parents too (which is weird when you're 7), I remember seeing them as fragile and feeling like I could and should solve all the problems and help with everything that comes along their way. During that time I somehow learnt not to put my wants, needs or problems forward, I'd keep them to myself and if it got really bad I'd just retreat to my imaginary worlds, not trusting I can share it. In fact, that's one of the ways older kids deal with the arrival of a younger sibling in the family and all the attention that they've lost - they become very nice and caring. It's not the worst scenario, but the problem with that is that I had to relearn later on in life how to care for myself and how to put my needs first.
There's this concept introduced into psychoanalysis by Donald Winnicott - False Self - an artificial persona that people create early in life to protect themselves from re-experiencing trauma or stress in close relationships. Often the False Self is created when parents are not able to create a safe environment for the kid's needs to be expressed. That false self later on acts all well-mannered and nice, hides it's own needs and wants, it avoids being authentically itself. It avoids any "uncomfortable" feelings like anger, sadness, disappointment. The opposite to False Self is our True Self - being able to experience the broad spectrum of emotions and accepting yourself: real, selfish, unimpressive, difficult, ill-tempered..
It's not to say that we should all behave like babies, screaming and biting whenever we feel like (that's what they do, right?), of course, the False Self, Mr. or Mrs. Nice Guy / Girl has a place in our lives and in our society, but the problem is that we can lose ourselves too easily: too polite in our relationships, too concentrated on our partner needs and forgetting our own, too afraid of being authentic in our work and in our life and losing the creativity along the way. I think we've all been there at some point.
So, yeah, your family might messed you up a little bit and then mix it up with all the messages you hear growing up - a perfect recipe for being at least slightly confused in life. To make it less confusing, we could for starters stop believing in all the messages we hear and allow ourselves to ignore the shaming that comes our way. The shaming of being too much or too little, the subtle and not so subtle advices other people give us.
If you know anything about human beings, you know that certain "advices" shall not be given, here's a few that I think we should stop using once and for all:
Relax/Chillax/Take a chill pill
Smile/ Don't be so X (X = any negative emotion)
Don't be such a Drama Queen!
Because you will get the EXACT OPPOSITE EFFECT!!!
Maybe it's time to reclaim the term Drama Queen if there's a chance that some drama, breaking a few plates or screaming out loud can help us to come back to our True Selves, to put our needs and wants first just like you have to put the oxygen mask first on yourself before you help others. Because expressing our feelings, especially the "uncomfortable" ones, actually helps others to understand and accept us for the way we truly are, create deep and meaningful connections and be more authentic when being creative. If that means being called a Drama Queen while wearing the crown of your True Self kingdom, I will gladly accept that.
More on True Self / False Self: https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/the-true-and-the-false-self/