I know dies is generally used to say this when referring to a noun. But what about if I want to say something like "This is ridiculous!" or "This is my story". Is there a German equivalent of expressing this? Or is it just one of those things where you have to play around with the language to say what you mean?
The most common translation is indeed "Es ist/Das ist":
This is awesome -> Das ist fantastisch
This is my story -> Das ist meine Geschichte
or the somewhat more generalized version with "Es ist", referencing a given state/situation:
This is ridiculous -> Es ist lächerlich
This is awkward -> Es ist (mir) peinlich
However, you can sometimes leave out 'this', e.g. in your given example. Facing something that results in a
"This is ridiculous!"
will often be expressed with
This can be seen as emphasis.
You could say "Dies ist lächerlich" but that sounds very unnatural and ridiculous.
You can say "Das ist lächerlich" or "Das ist meine Geschichte". This sounds perfectly natural.