Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Friends - The One with All the Life Lessons

I've seen many articles about the show Friends, such as this one from BuzzFeed. While I find them all hilarious, I think (and go ahead and laugh if you want) my love for the show is based on the fact that I truly relate to so many of the situations they portray. I think we all do in one way or another, otherwise it wouldn't still be so popular. 

I was a kid and a teenager when it was on air, but over the years, I have watched every episode. I own most of the seasons on DVD and can quote them with the best of them. Admittedly, I have even got into serious discussions about which characters are the best and why (although, I love them all). It was–and still is–a great show, full of great one-liners, subtle life lessons, and humorous situations that most of us can relate to.

Have we all bought a pair of leather pants and experienced the terrors of trying to make a pair of paste pants? Do we all sing goofy songs about sick pets at a coffee shop? Probably not, but we can all relate to so many of the situations that occur in our twenties. We've all had jobs that truly sucked. We've all had breakups and awkward family moments. We've all had to learn new skills–sometimes skills we should have learned earlier in life. We've all questioned whether or not we needed to make life changes. We've all tried to please everyone at some point, eventually realizing that, as long as we're happy, that's all that matters. 

Over the years, I've watched and related to the struggles of some of the characters, and when I reached the age that they were all portrayed to be, it was a stunning realization that the show was pretty spot-on for many areas of my own life. 

These are the lessons I've learned from Friends, and that I think many twenty-somethings learn (either with or without the help of the show, although the show makes it much more entertaining):

It's okay to make mistakes. We all do it in some form or fashion. We're human. Some of them will be doozies, so big that our friends will lovingly make them into anecdotes for years to come. Some will be littler, even if they seem huge at the time. But, we all come out of it stronger, wiser, and ready for the next step in our lives. 

Always aim to make improvements!

But be aware of the fact that your friends will call you out on things from time to time.

People and the connections we make are the best things in life. Those people with whom you can let down all pretenses and let your true colors show are the best people in the world. They'll be the ones who will pick you up when you fall down, who will laugh with you–and make you laugh–when you need it the most, and who will be your greatest support system. They'll also be the ones who will be around when you want to do nothing. They'll catch a ball game with you, share meals with you, watch movies, drive around, do nothing–but be everything, all in the same breath. Those are the people worth holding onto and keeping in your life forever. 

When you find friends who will help you deal with life like this, you've found your people.

The best medicine is to laugh at yourself, or to spend some time with those who know you best. If you can't laugh at yourself, you should. But, if you truly cannot, tell your best friends what you've done, and more often than not, they'll do it for you. Sometimes, we get so concerned about our "problems" that we lose sight of the genuine humor of whatever mess we've gotten into. 

Feeling down? Made a mistake? Took some bad advice on a tanning salon? Tell a friend, and laugh about it. 

Siblings will always be one of the most important parts of your life! They were there for the goofy years, they saw you through the "bangs" phase that didn't quite frame your face, they know all about those embarrassing teenage crushes, and they know your weaknesses. Still, they're your support system. They're the ones who will be there whenever you need it most, and they'll be the ones to agree to do something equally stupid with you in adulthood. They're your go-to for those things that are a little too embarrassing to do with anyone else. 

Being competitive is something all of your friends will tease you about–but it can be a good thing. If you're the one who always wants to be the best, you'll take a ribbing for it, but everyone will want you on their team when it comes time for the game (whatever game that may be).

Channel your inner Monica and go for the win!

Relationships are messy, and dating is hard. How many times did we watch Ross and Rachel screw it all up? Too many! And the whole time, we all got to see ourselves on that screen, remembering or even empathizing with how it feels to be in those positions. Dating is messy, because there are people–and feelings–involved, and that just leads to a place where a million things could go wrong. We can all relate. 

So many opportunities for things to get messy and confusing...

Pampering yourself is a necessity at times, and it's okay to do what you want. We all need a little downtime. At times, we need a buddy to sit and watch TV with, an evening to ourselves, the "Joey special" for dinner, a run with someone who will push us to the limit, or a bubble bath. Whatever you need to do for yourself on those days, take it and do so without compromise. 

We've all had those days!

Sometimes, you just have to say "no" to anything you don't want to do.

Hard times are going to come. It's inevitable. There are going to be those blows to the gut that bring you to your knees, and as you're staring at the ground in pain, you're going to realize (for the millionth time) that life isn't fair. Maybe you get fired from your job for taking "complimentary" steaks, maybe you find out that the one you still love is with someone new, maybe it's something as simple as the fact that you have to share your fries. Whatever it is, hard times happen. 

When in doubt, express yourself through creativity. I've found that my most productive writing comes in rough times. Whatever your creative outlet may be, find it and run with it. It's cheaper than therapy, and it's usually more entertaining. 

It may not always be beautiful, but it can help.

True friends are those who are going to be honest with you. They know your strengths and your weaknesses. They know what you've been through, and chances are they've gone through what you may be experiencing now. They're the ones who can offer you a hug, a drink, and a well-meaning pep talk. 

Best to be honest…

After all, they know you best...

Humor is truly the best option in most awkward situations. Sometimes, it'll make it worse, but hey, you can't say you didn't try to ease the pain of running into an ex, sticking your foot in your mouth, or being forced into someone else's drama. Who knows? You might make them laugh and make it better. 

Seriously, where is Beyonce hiding in this small world?

We all doubt ourselves on occasion. There were weaknesses and strengths within each character, and they all had things they didn't like about themselves. They made a lot of mistakes, and they doubted themselves. They were vulnerable on occasion, but they grew through each mistake.

As a twenty-something, we've all had some ups and downs, and some not-so-fine moments. Embrace it, grow from them, and be happy.

Life gets better and better. As a kid, I was always sad when something good ended. My dad's response used to always be that things kept getting better and life kept getting sweeter as time went on. He'd always remind me that, if we had been able to freeze time in happy times past, we'd have missed out on what we just got to experience. I always held onto that, and I think one of the genuinely beautiful things about the show is that, they display that fact. Sure, there were heartaches, there were steps backward, there were so many bad things that each of them endured, but with the right people by their sides and with enough time, it all took the shape it was supposed to, and life got better and better. 

There are always great things to look forward to!

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