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A Smart Girl's Guide to: Drama, Rumors, + Secrets! (podcast transcript + video)

In this episode, 16-year-old actress, producer, and my amazing Smart Girl’s Podcast co-host Shay Rudolph and I dive into the world of DRAMA, rumors and secrets. Even though we know spreading gossip is bad, why do we LOVE hearing the latest tea?! How can you avoid being sucked into a drama-filled friendship? And what do you do when someone you trust tells your secret?

While it sometimes feels like drama, rumors, and secrets are something everyone is used to, how can we actually interrupt these cycles and focus on building healthy relationships?

We are joined by the lovely Julia Lester, star of Disney+’s High School Musical, The Musical, The Series, and starred as Little Red Riding Hood in the Broadway musical, Into the Woods. Julia shares how she navigates the drama in her friend groups and gives practical advice on how to confront a friend who has spilled your secret.

This episode is perfect for tweens, teens or adults who are raising them!

You can also watch full episodes of the show on The American Girl Podcast Network channel on YouTube and YouTube kids.

0:00:10.9 Jess Weiner: Okay everybody, welcome to the Smart Girl's Podcast.

0:00:13.0 Shay Rudolph: I'm Shay.

0:00:13.7 JW: I'm Jess. And today, we have a really juicy episode on drama.

0:00:18.9 SR: Rumors.

0:00:19.5 JW: And secrets.

0:00:20.4 SR: Yeah.

0:00:21.4 JW: And these are the things, Shay, that, well, first of all, they cause a lot of heartbreak in our lives. It causes a lot of friend breakups. And yet I think the sharing and spreading of information like gossip and rumors is also becoming more complicated because of social media.

0:00:39.8 SR: I was gonna say that. I think it happens a lot faster now because of social media. Like if somebody catches a moment on video or in a picture or even just if they type it out in a text, it just spreads like wildfire. Even more so than just by word of mouth.

0:00:54.2 JW: Yeah. And by the way, I mean rumors, gossip, all that stuff existed well before the internet.

0:00:58.3 SR: Yeah.

0:00:58.3 JW: But I do think the internet kind of helps make it come faster.

0:01:01.2 SR: Exactly.

0:01:01.6 JW: And I think it's more embarrassing. Like I obviously grew up when the internet was not a thing and I did plenty of embarrassing things or, had some really tough moments with friends and just thankfully that maybe was shared like our friends group in our school, which was mortifying enough, but let alone out to like the whole world.

0:01:19.9 SR: And strangers on the internet.

0:01:21.5 JW: And strangers. Which is the other thing too, because oftentimes we get our hearts really broken from, drama with friends or gossip or somebody telling a secret that you ask them to keep but also it can really hurt when it's somebody you don't know.

0:01:35.1 SR: Yeah.

0:01:35.5 JW: That is just saying stuff that's not true and you feel like you can't control it, right?

0:01:39.0 SR: Mm-hmm. And there, I think there are a lot of rumors about people on the internet that just come out of thin air. And you're, either it's so much harder to control too, because those people don't know you personally. You don't know them personally and they're just making stuff up so you like, you have no way to kind of calm it down. Whereas if it was one of your friends, you can maybe talk it out...

0:02:00.3 JW: Right.

0:02:00.5 SR: See where it stemmed from. But on the internet, it's so hard.

0:02:02.1 SR: Listen, I can only imagine you living a pretty public life. Like people make up their minds about who they think you are. I mean, listen.

0:02:08.3 JW: They fill in the blanks.

0:02:08.4 SR: Yeah. You don't even have to live a public life. People do that online...

0:02:11.8 JW: Totally.

0:02:12.4 JW: Anyway, yeah, so I think today is gonna be really important because there's a lot to unpack with drama and if you are a part of any friend group, you know drama is a regular occurrence.

0:02:24.9 SR: It's a thing. [chuckle]

0:02:25.5 JW: It's something we talk a lot about in this Smart Girl's book, which is drama, rumors, and secrets. And when you and I were rereading this book, we were both like, "Oh my gosh." It has everything that you've really probably experienced in your friend groups or in schools. But what I love about this book in particular is that the goal is about how to stay true to yourself in changing times and changing times include social media and all of the ways that rumors spread. But there is a part, Shay that I struggle with, which is, let's be honest.

0:02:57.1 SR: I know what you're gonna say.

0:02:58.1 JW: You do? [laughter]

0:02:58.4 SR: Yeah.

0:03:00.0 JW: Say it.

0:03:00.9 SR: We kinda like drama.

0:03:01.2 JW: We do like drama. Like how many of you, be honest as you're listening to this, love to spread a rumor, love to gossip, love to say something that you know, why do you think we love drama so much?

0:03:14.3 SR: Well, honestly, I wanna say I feel like people think about it in terms of entertainment now because of magazines and social media posts and reality TV shows where the whole thing is based around drama. So I feel like people kind of get that idea that it's something entertaining to watch.

0:03:29.6 JW: Yep.

0:03:29.8 SR: And it keeps you relevant and popular in school too. 'Cause if you are the one that's saying everything and keeping everybody up to date, then everybody wants to come to you and then everybody wants to be friends with you.

0:03:38.4 JW: Correct. Or everyone's scared of you.

0:03:39.7 SR: Oh, Yeah.

0:03:39.8 JW: And that's a power thing too, right?

0:03:41.4 SR: Yeah. That is a form of popularity as well. You're still getting attention.

0:03:44.8 JW: Yeah. So I want us to think about that today. Not just like how do you stop sharing and spreading, but why.

0:03:52.6 SR: Why?

0:03:53.1 JW: We're so interested in that. And if you are the recipient of like a juicy piece of news about somebody that is maybe not that person's secret to tell or story to tell, what do you do about that? Like how do you kind of control the drama in your life, so you're not filled with fights and rumors and accusations and you have a little bit less drama in your friendship?

0:04:14.8 SR: I feel like kind of the main key to that as I'm thinking about it right now is, you have to learn how to set boundaries. 'Cause a lot of the time, if you're stuck in the middle of two friends that are fighting with each other and they're both coming to you to say things about the other person, you're completely stuck in the middle. And how do you say, "I don't wanna be in this position," to both of them and make them talk it out with themselves?

0:04:36.0 JW: I think you say just that. I think... But here's why. This is why we have to confront, like why do I like the rumor? Because you also have to be able to say, "I might like it about somebody else, but I wouldn't like it if they were saying that about me."

0:04:48.4 SR: Exactly.

0:04:48.7 JW: So I think it's great just to say, "Hey, you know what? I really wanna stay neutral here. I don't wanna, hear anything that I'm not supposed to hear." Or if you're with friends too, it's like, "Hey, you know what if like my friend Hannah came to tell me something about you," I might say, "Hey, you know what Hannah, I'm gonna let Shay tell me that if Shay wants to." And then the other part of the book that's really, really awesome to read about is the whole part on secrets.

0:05:13.5 SR: I was just about to say secrets. Yeah. [laughter]

Recording the Smart Girl's Podcast

0:05:14.7 JW: Yeah. Like, tell me if you... Can you remember a time where you told somebody a secret and they betrayed your trust?

0:05:21.4 SR: Yeah, I can. And I actually can remember a time where I was the one that betrayed the trust.

0:05:26.1 JW: Really?

0:05:26.2 SR: Really. Which I don't often do because I'm now very aware of it because I've had my secrets be exposed and I know how much it hurts and how much it sucks. But I remember in fifth grade, one of my friends told me who she had a crush on and she said, "Don't tell anybody." And I said, "Okay, I won't." And usually that means I won't. I'm very good at keeping secrets, but I don't know what was different this time. Somebody else came up to me and she was like, "Shay, do you have any secrets?" And I was like, "Yeah," so and so like so and so.

0:05:53.4 JW: Oh shit.

0:05:54.2 SR: And I do not know why I said it. And immediately after I said it, I was like, "I shouldn't have done that. That was really bad. I shouldn't have said things."

0:06:00.6 JW: Did you ever apologize?

0:06:01.8 SR: I did apologize because she actually was like, "I know you exposed my secret." And I was like, "I know, I'm really sorry. I shouldn't have done that." So I haven't done it since. But yeah, I remember being in both positions and they both actually really suck. I honestly do.

0:06:15.9 JW: When you realize you've made a mistake or if you've hurt some of these feelings, and again, we're all gonna be a part of this in some way.

0:06:22.5 SR: Yeah.

0:06:22.5 JW: It's how you acknowledge it, how you address the impact. Right. And how you practice maybe to do it a little bit better. We have an incredible guest with us today. She's super wise, very talented, has so many great stories about this, and is somebody I think a lot of us have kind of grown up watching and really love to see. So I just gassed her up, tell everybody who's our guest today.

0:06:44.8 SR: So our guest today is Julia Lester. From what I've heard from Jess, she is an amazing human being. You guys may know her. She plays Ashlyn on the Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, and she also plays Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods on Broadway, which is incredible.

0:07:02.7 JW: Yeah.

0:07:03.3 SR: I'm like mind-blown at that fact, and I'm just so excited to meet her and get to talk to her about this 'cause this is such a crazy, juicy episode.

0:07:11.5 JW: Yeah.

0:07:12.0 SR: And I'm sure she'll have some really great advice.

0:07:12.7 JW: Oh, she'll have great advice.

0:07:12.8 SR: Yeah.

0:07:13.7 JW: So let's dig in.

0:07:16.4 SR: So Julia, I am really, really excited to talk to you today. We are talking about drama, rumors, and secrets, which is so juicy and impacts us all, [chuckle] and also we kind of enjoy it. So I wanna ask you, why do we like drama, rumors, and secrets so much?

0:07:34.3 Julie Lester: You know, that's such a good question and I used to think, "Oh, maybe because I'm a performer and I'm an actor, getting invested in other people's drama is like character study for me in a way," [laughter] or like a way for me to perform. But it happens to everybody, performers or not.

0:07:53.8 JW: Yeah.

0:07:55.8 JL: And so, I don't know. I think especially when you're in school, I think your world is so small, or so much smaller than what it ends up being when you grow up. And so I think it's inevitable the way that we have, tabloids in real life and rumors about celebrities and political figures and things like that. It's only natural for that to happen in a contained environment where you see the same people every day, so.

0:08:21.2 JW: Yeah.

0:08:22.5 SR: And I wanna add, I feel like when we're the ones that are maybe talking behind somebody's back and gossiping, it kind of is a way for us to process how we feel about that person. Maybe talking it out with somebody else that feels the same way and we can kinda talk badly about them, that's a way to process it, I think. Which is not a good way, but...

0:08:38.1 JW: Well, no, but I would actually pose that to you Julia. Do you think if you're talking to a friend about another friend, is that gossip? Do you consider that gossip or do you consider that just talking to your friend?

0:08:52.3 JL: Yeah, I think it definitely depends on what you're talking about. 'Cause if we sat here and Shay wasn't here and I was like, "Oh my God, I love Shay's clothing and she's so kind and oh, we did this project together last week and it went so well." I think that is very healthy, normal conversation. But now, if I'm saying things about her that either aren't true or observations that maybe I want to pick apart somebody's brain with or something, I think that's definitely gossip. And let's be real, if I'm saying something that would either hurt her feelings or make her not trust me, that automatically goes as gossip.

0:09:33.5 JW: Yeah. I really like that you broke that down 'cause what I hear in that is, "What is your intention in what you're saying?"

0:09:40.4 JL: Yeah.

0:09:40.9 JW: You know, if I also came to you and said, "Hey, I'm really having a problem with Shay and my relationship with her. Can I talk this out with you?" I think I've then made it clear what I'm looking for is advice about my friendship with her.

0:09:54.5 SR: Yeah, yeah.

0:09:55.2 JL: Yeah.

0:09:55.3 JW: Versus if I just went, "Oh, she's being so annoying today." So I think... I'm glad that you brought that up though. Seriously. And also we love you, duh.

0:10:02.4 SR: Yeah, I'm like, "Why am I the example?" [laughter]

0:10:06.0 JL: I just used you as an example.

0:10:07.1 JW: No, because it would be so unlikely I would say that about you.

0:10:13.1 JL: Exactly.

0:10:13.9 JW: But I like that you brought that up because I think it's good to know why you are saying what you're saying about somebody.

0:10:17.7 SR: And what the difference is between the two.

0:10:19.1 JW: Yeah, and what the difference is. Julia, have you had this experience in real life where you've had kind of a friend group or a friendship break up over a rumor, drama, secret, gossip, anything like that?

0:10:32.0 JL: Yeah, definitely. Having friend groups is tricky because, I mean, in my personal experience, you don't have the same level of friendship with every single person in your group.

0:10:43.7 JW: Yeah.

0:10:43.9 SR: Yep.

0:10:44.2 JW: Right.

0:10:45.3 JL: 'Cause there's always one person who's maybe, you're a little bit closer to, or there is a couple that you have more history with, and so there's more of a bond there. And I think that's sort of where things get a little tricky. I had some experiences in high school where I had a larger group of friends that I was comfortable with, and that sort of left room for a divide in some way. And it wasn't ever intentional, but there were definitely times where I feel like there were certain people who felt probably left out because they came along at a different time or anything. And I was never ill-intentioned, but I think it's only natural for that to happen.

0:11:23.9 JW: Yeah.

0:11:24.4 JL: So yeah, I think keeping honesty and keeping an open communication with all the people that are close to you is really important.

0:11:32.3 JW: Yeah.

0:11:32.9 SR: Yeah.

0:11:33.9 JW: I do too. Have you had friend breakups over...

0:11:36.0 SR: I think we all have. Honestly, in like every single level of my life. Elementary school, I had friend breakups over drama and middle school and high school, which I'm in right now. It's just... It happens. And it doesn't make it hurt any less the more you go through it, but I feel like the more experiences you have with it, you know what to look out for and you know how to maybe set those boundaries like what we were talking about, or stop it from happening in the first place.

0:12:00.9 JW: Yeah. The book talks about how to stay true to yourself in changing times. What is changing a lot for young people of course is social media and the ability to spread misinformation so fast.

0:12:12.6 JL: Yeah.

0:12:13.5 JW: And the ability to really hurt somebody with gossip that's untrue, again because it just kind of flies out there and you can't control where it lands. And so I'm curious, maybe Julia, if you could share, as you grow as a public figure and people look at you and they make up stories about you in their own head, even if they're saying it or not saying it. Right? Like, people look at Shay online, they'll say, "Oh, she's this" or "She's that." How do you navigate hearing something about you that's not true?

0:12:42.2 JL: Something that I think is really important is owning your truth and owning who you are because, sure, somebody locked up in their room somewhere on the other side of the country can say something about you online that's not true. And yes, of course it's always gonna hurt when you see it right in front of you, and your first initial reaction is, "I need to comment back and say, oh no, that's not true."

0:13:03.5 JW: Right.

0:13:04.0 JL: "You didn't mean to say that."

0:13:05.9 SR: Yeah.

0:13:06.6 JL: "Let me put my truth out there." But something that I always have to remind myself is rumors and truth are so... It's such a vast world and under... Knowing what is true to you and who you are is really important. And also looking to the people around you and being like, "This is a name that's online and this is a physical person in my life who knows who I really am." And there's a clear difference in what's more important.

0:13:36.0 JW: Yeah.

0:13:36.1 JL: So really, really owning who you are is I think, like the first step.

0:13:40.2 JW: Yeah and that's such a tough lesson to learn because...

0:13:43.4 SR: Oh yeah.

0:13:44.3 JW: We were saying when we're growing up, especially I'll make this generalization, I think girls can be raised and encouraged to look outside of themselves for approval. So we look often to what somebody thinks about us, what they think about our appearance, what our friends think about what we're wearing or what we're doing. We often put a lot of emphasis on outside of us and I think what you're saying about knowing your truth is again about looking within and knowing more about who you are and knowing what's true and not. But the hardest thing is to try to not stop every little bit of rumor.

0:14:19.9 JL: Yeah.

0:14:20.0 JW: Or gossip. And that's easier to do if you don't know that person.

0:14:22.4 JL: Yeah, I totally agree.

0:14:23.6 JW: What happens though Shay and Julia, if it's somebody you know who's saying stuff that's not true.

0:14:28.4 SR: And somebody you really trust and are really close with?

0:14:30.6 JL: Yeah, I think it definitely depends on the subject matter. Because if somebody is starting petty false rumors about parts of who you are or what you are interested in or what your hobbies are, things like that. It's a very clear sign that they are lacking in those areas in their life and so how... The way that they can feel involved in let's say you have a really cool afterschool program and somebody starts a rumor about something that happened in that program and it's like, "Well, you weren't involved in that, clearly you are missing out on this beautiful experience that I'm having." And so I think things are easy to ignore when they're in that sort of...

0:15:13.2 JW: Yeah.

0:15:13.4 JL: Like level of rumor but I mean I always say, go to an adult, go to somebody you trust. If it's something that is really troubling you or really troubling something that you're a part of or rumors that are very unkind, I think definitely, don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help.

0:15:34.1 JW: Yeah.

0:15:34.1 JL: Or tell somebody that this is happening because there's no greater support than the people around you.

0:15:40.1 JW: Yeah.

0:15:41.0 JL: And you'll always wanna try to fight your battles on your own but in the end, it's really helpful when you have somebody else there to help you along the way.

0:15:49.3 SR: Yeah, and I also wanna say too I feel like rumors are maybe easier to kind of like talk about and get help from because oftentimes, they're not true that's what a rumor is. But it hurts so much more when it's a secret because that is something that is true about you that you entrusted somebody with and then they broke that trust and spread that secret.

0:16:10.2 JW: Yeah.

0:16:10.4 SR: And so I feel like that that is gossip in a way when you share somebody's secrets. But what do you do then? What if somebody breaks that trust and exposes a secret that you told them? How do you deal with that? 'Cause that hurts so much more, that is so personal. Do you break up with that friend or do you talk to them or what do you do?

0:16:26.3 JL: Yeah that's a really, really difficult situation to be in. The first thing that comes to my mind is empathy if somebody's gonna do that to you and break that very sacred bond that you have. There's probably something deeper going on that you're unaware of. And so I think distance is very helpful, it depends on how long you've known this person and what they mean to you. But I think keeping a healthy distance is very important. Having an open communication about how, that was really inappropriate, that hurt my feelings and I'm gonna need some space and some time and it will help them reflect and also help them sort of realize, "Oh, if I keep doing this, I'm gonna continue to lose people in my life that I love."

0:17:09.3 JW: Right.

0:17:10.0 SR: Yeah.

0:17:10.4 JL: So I think, yeah, it starts with their healthy distance and also just understanding that people who do that are not secure in either who they are or where they are in life or is jealousy involved.

0:17:23.1 JW: Yeah.

0:17:23.4 JL: So, yeah, knowing that.

0:17:25.1 JW: Having that courageous conversation really, really matters. Here's what I'm curious about y'all, 'cause we talked about drama as a form of conflict within friend groups, but I have and have had in my circle of friends, the drama queen or the drama king. [laughter] However you want to define them who is literally like the one... And it's not that they're causing drama with other people it's that their life feels like drama all the time. They're the one with the issues, they're the one with the breakups they have to tell you about or the fights that they're in. Like can we talk about that for a second Julia, have you known drama queens and kings in your circle? [laughter] And...

0:18:02.9 JL: I know I'm a little bit nervous as you're saying those things, 'cause I'm like that TikTok meme like, "Am I the drama? Am I the drama?" [laughter]

0:18:10.9 JW: There's actually a quiz in this book, Julia.

0:18:14.2 SR: Yeah. Are you a drama queen?

0:18:15.3 JW: That we can take, that will tell us if we're drama queens. [laughter]

0:18:19.2 JL: Uh-oh.

0:18:19.7 JW: Uh-oh.

0:18:20.0 JL: But here's the thing, it sort of goes back to what I first said about being a performer, I definitely was never a drama queen in a sense where I would sort of like spark issues or spark problems. But there's this sort of excitement that comes with, "Oh, did you see who was talking to who?" Or, oh even like, "Oh, I heard a rumor about what the next spring musical is gonna be." Just small things like that, it's very exciting to have this bubbling passion about what's going on around you. And I think it's actually very healthy to be in tune with what's going on around you and to know that you have people you can trust, who you can confide in and say, "Oh, whatever the, whatever's happening." But I think there's a very clear difference between being somebody who is excited about the world around them.

0:19:08.0 JW: Yeah.

0:19:08.0 JL: And somebody who is clearly trying to spark problems.

0:19:11.0 SR: Yeah.

0:19:11.8 JL: Which I definitely was not that person but I do... [chuckle] Am I the drama? If sometimes...

0:19:16.8 SR: No.

0:19:17.2 JL: I gotta keep myself in check.

0:19:19.2 JW: I know but I'm also thinking about the person that's always asking for advice, is always having something go... Do you have anybody? Can you think of anybody that you've experienced?

0:19:27.6 SR: But I feel like those people oftentimes they just need to take a sec to figure out their own problems instead of always turning to other people maybe. And I feel like a lot of the time I notice that maybe if I was there for a scenario and then I hear them also go and talk about that scenario later, I realize that they say things that didn't really happen or they make things bigger than they actually are.

0:19:48.2 JW: Bigger. Okay. That's why I brought this up.

0:19:51.1 SR: Yeah.

0:19:51.2 JW: Because this was my high school experience. I did have a small group of friends that we used to hang out with very tightly, but there was always the one young woman in my friend group who there was always something happening to her or for her or about her. It was like we couldn't sit down, we used to have dinner once a week together, we couldn't sit down without her telling us some long story of something that happened to her. And after a while to be honest with you, our friends had to confront her a little bit because it was kind of draining.

Recording The Smart Girl's Podcast

0:20:21.2 SR: Yeah.

0:20:21.7 JL: We were always trying to help fix her problems. And so what I related to in the drama part of this book is sometimes drama is the conflict, but other times, drama is the way somebody pulls you into their life and they're not doing like Shay just said, kinda their own... They're not helping themselves to a degree and they're just relying on everybody to do it. And that doesn't make a very equal friendship.

0:20:44.6 SR: I was just about to say that leaves no room for you to ask for advice from them 'cause it's just always them, them, them, them, them, them, them.

0:20:49.3 JL: There you go, yeah.

0:20:51.3 JW: Right, exactly.

0:20:52.0 JL: Yeah.

0:20:53.2 JW: What advice would you give to somebody, Julia, who may be realizing that they are the drama queen, they are the gossip spreader? There might be somebody listening that's like, "Oh wow, you know what? I'm not great at keeping secrets."

0:21:08.9 JL: I think becoming a listener is very important. If you feel... If you're listening to this right now and you sort of have this realization of, "Oh, maybe that's me, maybe I'm that person in my friend group." I think that's a very... A very good start is to sit back and listen. And no matter how much you feel like you have to say or no matter how much you want to give your input, I think giving the floor to other people will sort of allow for that understanding about you to sort of dissipate a little bit because everybody... There's always the drama queen in the friend group, but there's also somebody who's the listener and the observer and sort of maybe... I don't know, taking on some of those qualities and taking on some of those traits will sort of help maybe diffuse that side of you a little bit.

0:21:57.5 JW: Yeah. I really love that. I think also if anybody is listening and going, "Oh, maybe that is me," that's a great piece of self-awareness.

0:22:04.0 SR: Yeah, that's the first step. Realize that it is you and then you can fix it. Yeah.

0:22:08.1 JL: And maybe you should be an actress. [laughter]

0:22:11.2 JW: Yeah. Channel that energy in a good way. We had this amazing opportunity, Julia, for Shay to connect to her community and ask questions for folks to answer on the show. And we have one we wanna kind of throw your way...

0:22:24.3 SR: Yeah.

0:22:24.8 JW: From somebody who's seeking advice on this topic.

0:22:27.1 SR: Okay. So somebody sent in a scenario and a question. They said, "I'm going into sixth grade in August. I'm kind of scared. What if people start rumors about me and no one likes me?" What advice you have for them?

0:22:39.7 JL: Well, first of all, going into sixth grade is something to be extremely excited about. I know it's different from school to school but if sixth grade is... I know sometimes elementary goes through sixth grade but if sixth grade is a new start in a new environment with new people, that's something to absolutely look forward to. And I think sort of going into it feeling scared or nervous is natural.

0:23:02.7 SR: Totally.

0:23:02.8 JL: But try to have that be secondary to the positive sides of being in a new school and being able to make friends. And something that I found really helpful in my life is right off the bat showing people small random acts of kindness. Whether it's holding the door for somebody or helping somebody figure out how to use their locker or smiling at somebody in the hallway. It sort of gives off this understanding with everybody that you're not somebody to be messed with in that drama sort of way. [laughter]

0:23:34.3 SR: Yeah.

0:23:34.6 JL: And if people decide that you're somebody they wanna spread rumors about, you have all of this evidence and all of these people...

0:23:41.2 JW: Yep.

0:23:41.7 SR: Yes.

0:23:42.2 JL: At your school who can back you up and say, "But this person is so kind and this person did this for me and they did this for me." And so yeah, I think showing small random acts of kindness and even just smiling at somebody can really set you off on the right foot, I think.

0:24:00.0 JW: I love that advice...

0:24:00.9 SR: I love that too.

0:24:01.1 SR: Because you're never gonna be able to control what anybody says about you or even what they think about you. Okay, I have one last fun thing I wanna end on. I wanna practice spreading good gossip.

0:24:11.5 SR: Ohh.

0:24:12.0 JL: Ohh. [chuckle]

0:24:12.5 JW: So I love the idea, and you kinda gave me this hint, Julia, a little earlier when you were sharing some of our scenarios. Let's end on giving a piece of good gossip to each other about each other.

0:24:25.4 SR: Aw.

0:24:25.8 JL: Ooh, that's lovely.

0:24:26.6 JW: Okay. All right, I'll start. So my good gossip about Julia is, she's worked so hard in her career and she is enjoying the fruits of that labor and she is getting to shine her light on Broadway, and I am so proud of her. Spread the word.

Role-playing how to spread good gossip.

0:24:45.9 SR: Aw, that's amazing. Hey Julia, I heard something about you. [laughter] Jess is talking to me about you. Do you wanna know what she said?

0:24:52.8 JL: What did she say? I do!

0:24:54.7 SR: She said that you are a really hard worker and you have earned everything that has come your way and you are such a kind person and that she is so proud of you, that's what I heard.

0:25:04.8 JL: Oh my goodness. Really?

0:25:08.0 JW: Yeah.

0:25:08.9 JL: Oh, my gosh, no way. [laughter] Well, I have something to say about Jess too.

0:25:10.9 SR: Oh my God, what? What is it? Tell me.

0:25:13.9 JL: Jess is so compassionate and one of the best listeners that I have ever encountered ever. So if you ever have a problem, I think that she's one of the first people that you can go to and you can tell everybody that you know that Jess is somebody that you can go to if you ever have an issue. And she'll always listen and always be there with advice and good grace and a big old hug. So...

0:25:36.2 SR: You know what?

0:25:36.9 JL: Spread the word. [laughter]

0:25:37.9 SR: I will spread the word. Hey, Jess I...

0:25:40.0 JW: Hey, Shay.

0:25:40.3 SR: Julia was talking to me about you.

0:25:42.5 JW: What did she say?

0:25:43.8 SR: She said that you are an amazing listener and you give incredible advice and that you give the best hugs...

0:25:50.2 JW: Oh!

0:25:50.9 SR: And that you're an incredible person all around. What do you think about that?

0:25:54.6 JW: I kinda love it. It's so true. [laughter]

0:25:57.2 SR: Jess, I kinda have this feeling that good gossip is just a way of saying a compliment. [laughter]

0:26:04.2 JW: That's a good thing to think about. It kind of is, but what I love about it is look at how it felt to spread it. 'Cause I also think sometimes we forget to share that part of it.

0:26:15.0 SR: Yeah.

0:26:15.3 JW: All right, Julia, let me tell you because I don't wanna leave this one out over here.

0:26:19.7 JL: Right.

0:26:20.2 JW: I have to gossip about my co-host, okay? [chuckle] And the deal is, this is her first time doing a podcast and she's killing it, is she not?

0:26:28.7 JL: Oh my God, I would have never expected, seasoned veteran.

0:26:33.2 JW: Yes, exactly.

0:26:34.7 JL: Yes. Wow.

0:26:35.0 JW: She is so in tune. She is also a great listener, but she's got a heart as huge as the world and she cares about the people she talks to and the things that we talk about, and I love doing the show with her. Spread the word.

0:26:47.8 JL: Uh, my God, amazing.

0:26:48.7 JW: See? You see how much fun that could be?

0:26:51.7 SR: It is really fun!

0:26:52.7 JW: I just want to say in the future, I don't know, maybe we could make good gossip a thing.

0:26:57.2 SR: I think we should, [laughter] 'cause it also... I wanna say... Actually on a very serious note...

0:27:01.2 JW: Yeah.

0:27:01.5 SR: It fulfills that part inside of you that wants to talk about other people when they're not there.

0:27:05.2 JL: Yeah!

0:27:05.7 SR: But you're doing it in a really nice, kind way.

0:27:08.7 JW: Yeah.

0:27:09.2 JL: Yeah.

0:27:09.7 JW: I'm really happy to have this conversation with you today Julia. Thank you so much for being here with us.

0:27:13.2 SR: Thank you so, so much. You were amazing.

0:27:14.2 JL: Oh my God. Seriously, thank you so much for having me. What an amazing topic to join you guys for. And anybody that's listening out there, we got your back.

0:27:24.0 JW: Yep.

0:27:24.1 JL: The people around you got your back, and yeah, go through life unapologetic and be true to who you are.


0:27:34.0 JW: Did I tell you or did I tell you?

0:27:35.8 SR: You told me. She is amazing.

0:27:37.5 JW: That's my girl, Julia Lester.

0:27:38.7 SR: Yeah, we were good gossiping about her. [laughter]

0:27:42.0 JW: I just... I love Julia, 'cause you can feel the genuineness with her.

0:27:45.0 SR: Yeah, you really can, even through a screen.

0:27:47.5 JW: Yeah, so my takeaway from this, a part that she mentioned that I really wanna take a second on, is the empathy part. If somebody has hurt you by sharing something that you've asked them not to share or maybe saying something that's unkind, it was interesting that her first response was have empathy for them, they might be going through something. And of course, that's an interesting piece of advice because I think our first reaction is to feel hurt and to feel...

0:28:14.2 SR: Of course.

0:28:14.5 JW: Attacked because that's very valid. And then I thought this was just a good balance to think about. Yes, if somebody is saying something hurtful about you, likely that's because they're hurting.

0:28:26.0 SR: Exactly, I was gonna say, maybe other people are saying hurtful things about them and they're trying to control the situation like we were talking about.

0:28:31.5 JW: Yeah.

0:28:31.7 SR: And I think also too, jealousy plays a huge part in it, like Julia was kinda touching on. Maybe you're in a cool extracurricular activity and they wanna be part of it, so they start rumors about it.

0:28:41.8 JW: Yeah.

0:28:42.5 SR: I think a lot of times it's either from hurt or jealousy.

0:28:45.0 JW: Yes, I agree.

0:28:46.0 SR: Yeah. And yeah, I also wanna say that you don't always have to make up with people or think about them from an empathetic place if they've hurt you time and time again. I think it's...

0:28:57.0 JW: Good point.

0:28:57.2 SR: Totally okay to use a situation like this where maybe a friend exposes a secret that you've really told them not to tell anybody else.

0:29:05.0 JW: Sure.

0:29:05.5 SR: And you trusted them and you made it very clear that you didn't want that boundary to be broken and they still break it, you can use that as a way to break up with them if maybe you realize that they're not the best for you and you don't want them in your life anymore, so I wanna say that both places are... Yeah.

0:29:19.2 JW: It's a good balance of advice. There's some really great other pieces of advice in the book about, how to confront a friend, how to have a courageous conversation. But we always want you to know, when you're listening right now, we trust you to make the best decisions for you in your life.

0:29:36.7 SR: Absolutely.

0:29:37.2 JW: And you'll know if this person is not trustworthy, if the hurt that they've caused is not fixable, and it is okay to walk away. And again, always... And Julia said this too, talk to a trusted adult.

0:29:49.3 SR: Yeah.

0:29:49.7 JW: Find the person that you can confide in. I wanna bring back out the book for a second, because there's a part of the book, Shay, that I think you and I are really passioned about, and it's... What I love about Smart Girl's books is it kinda gives you the tools to rewrite the script on drama because it says, "People may think drama is inevitable and it isn't. Girls like you can rewrite the script." And so, here's an example of something we could flip the script on.

0:30:15.0 SR: Great!

0:30:15.1 JW: And since you're a writer, let's do it. [chuckle]

0:30:16.2 SR: I am! So are you.

0:30:17.9 JW: So, here's the idea, "All girls gossip. We can't live without it."


0:30:22.9 SR: Wrong.

0:30:23.5 JW: Right! So this is on the other page, it says, "No, you can say something like I won't use gossip and rumors as weapons against other kids in person or online." That's what's called rewriting the script, take one point of view and change it to be something more positive and more true.

0:30:40.0 SR: I was just about to say, yeah.

0:30:42.1 JW: I think this is a really good one, "We share everything, everybody does." Not so true. Like, "We share secrets. Everybody shares secrets." No, not everybody shares secrets. A way to rewrite the script is, "I'm not going to trade in secrets. My friends can trust me."

0:31:01.6 SR: Yeah.

0:31:02.3 JW: So, here's what I would say, 'cause I am very, very guilty of gossiping and telling other people's secrets at times and using that as a way to feel in control, I'll be very honest. And I think what's really important is, we also get moments in our life to decide who we wanna be and what's important to us. And if that friend and that friendship is really important to you, and the idea of being a trustworthy person is important to you, then it is really important that you value the trust in your friends more than the one juicy gossip moment that you could get with them.

0:31:38.0 SR: Again, just coming back to treating others the way that you wanna be treated, think about if your friend was the one that was saying the secrets and how that would make you feel?

0:31:47.2 JW: That's right.

0:31:48.1 SR: If you're about to spill something that they trusted you with, flip it.

0:31:52.2 JW: Yeah.

0:31:52.6 SR: Think about how you would feel.

0:31:54.0 JW: Yeah.

0:31:54.1 SR: And I think oftentimes, that'll change what your actions are.

0:31:57.5 JW: Oh, I agree. All right, last thing we're gonna flip the script on is the idea around technology. One thought is, "Technology lets us communicate better. It helps build great friendships." That could be true.

0:32:09.0 SR: Yeah.

0:32:09.5 JW: Right?

0:32:09.7 SR: Yeah.

0:32:09.9 JW: We can make great friends online, but one thing to add to that truth, is technology isn't for fights. If I have a problem with somebody, we'll talk it out in person.

0:32:20.5 SR: That is a big one, that... Yeah.

0:32:21.5 JW: It is a big one because we often are afraid to say what we feel so we might text it and you can't read tone in a text.

0:32:31.2 SR: Don't hide behind the screen.

0:32:32.0 JW: No.

0:32:32.1 SR: I'm so guilty of it because honestly, confronting somebody is really hard and really scary and I don't love doing that. So I think that typing out all the words and just having to hit a button is so much easier, but it makes things so, so complicated because what you were just saying, you can't read the person's tone and you can't hug it out afterwards in trying to...

0:32:51.7 JW: And it's not personal. I'm looking at you right now, I know some of you are just listening, but I'm in a studio looking at Shay and I can see her, we can make eye contact, I can see her. And I think if you need to use the Notes app and write some thoughts down, if you need to use your journal, write some thoughts down. But I think for the really important relationships, the ones you care about, face-to-face or FaceTime, where you can really see the other person, as scary as that can seem, I've truly can say in all my years, I have never had... Although it might be difficult, I've never had an experience be worse in person than if I tried to get away with it in email or a text.

0:33:29.8 SR: I agree. I fully agree. And I never regret having to... Getting myself to have the guts to say it in person versus if I say it over text. You never regret saying things in person.

0:33:38.2 JW: No, it builds character and we're all about building strong character at Smart Girl's. So sometimes, you have to do the hard stuff to build your character.

0:33:45.2 SR: Yeah. Yeah.

0:33:46.1 JW: Yeah, so this was such a good episode.

0:33:48.2 SR: It really was.

0:33:49.1 JW: Thank y'all for listening to the Smart Girl's Podcast with Shay and Jess. If you're an adult listening right now or a parent listening with your smart girl at home, we would love for you to follow us so you don't miss an episode. And of course, if you could rate and review, that helps us out. And if you're on social media you can find us @imjessweiner, @shayrudolph, and @americangirlbrand. We're on Instagram and TikTok, where we are sharing awesome behind-the-scenes content and of course, clips from these interviews.

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