Adulting with FRIENDS
If you follow this blog as closely as I’m certain you all do, you might have noticed that I took a pretty long break between March and July. I’ve taken blogging breaks before, but this is the first time I’ve really had a good reason. In the last few months I’ve finished my first semester of grad school, gotten a new job, left my old job, and moved to a new state, finally living on my own for the first time since college. I’ve been adulting like crazy.
Last time I moved out, I spent my first night in my apartment watching early episodes of FRIENDS and putting together IKEA furniture with a friend of my own. This time, no friend, no IKEA, but I did spend most of my first week unpacking my belongings … and, of course, revisiting my favorite sitcom. While the last time I spent ten seasons in 1990s New York was mostly a time killer and distraction, this time I’m actually realizing how many real-life lessons are embedded next to the comedy.
Take the leap.
From the very first episode FRIENDS wasn’t just there to be funny. Whether or not the creators intended it, the show created characters and scenarios that made it instantly relatable to 20-somethings looking at a rapidly approaching cliff, and wondering whether they’d survive the fall, and it had just one message: JUMP!
The series begins with the ultimate cliff jump for Rachel Green, as she leaves her fiancee at the altar, and cuts financial ties with her wealthy family. The decision forces her to get her first job, figure out how to pay for things, and otherwise completely overturn her life. Ultimately, Rachel undergoes the biggest transformation from one season to the next, and discovers a rewarding life, and a promising career.
Don’t be afraid to try new things.
New experiences are scary, but they can also be rewarding. Countless times over the course of the show’s 10 long seasons, each of the FRIENDS is given the opportunity to do new things, with varying results. Whether it’s making Thanksgiving dinner for the first time (or just making dessert), starting a new job, learning to play Rugby, or getting a new brain, new experiences are new opportunities. Being scared is all part of the fun.
Life is too short to spend doing something you don’t really love.
Perhaps best exemplified by Rachel’s quitting Central Perk to find a job in fashion, and Chandler abruptly quitting his job in Statistical Analysis and Data Reconfiguration when it became more soul sucking than usual, this one is something many of us have a hard time coming to terms with. When you’re comfortable, but bored. When you’re making good money, but your boss is an asshole. When you spend your days waiting to go home, and your weeks looking forward to the weekend. All of these scenarios can trap us, trick us into thinking that’s what life is like. If you don’t love what you do, it’s time to find some new avenues to explore.
Unless you’re trying to quit the gym. That’s never going to happen.
Just because it feels like it, doesn’t mean it’s really the end of the world.
Life has its very high highs, but it can also have some very low lows. Whether you’re dealing with a break (or a break-up), facing another divorce, getting fired, falling down an elevator shaft, staring down single parenthood or finding out you can’t have kids … bad things happen, usually when you’re least expecting them. Sometimes those things seem insurmountable, but just when you think you can’t take the pain or the struggle, tomorrow comes, the pain subsides, and someone throws you a life jacket.
Don’t take things too seriously.
Let’s face it, life is a bitch. There are good days, bad days, days that throw you for a loop, and days that lift you up and make you happy you’re alive.
But at the end of the day … it’s always best to keep a smile on your face and a positive attitude. Or, at least, keep a sarcastic comment in your back pocket.
As Buzzfeed has pointed out, the advances in technology over the last 20 years are quickly making many of the FRIENDS jokes unrelatable. With new shows moving in to fill the void, those of us currently reaching our mid-20s, moving out and growing up over the last few years, may be the last generation who really gets to appreciate them, and all the wisdom hidden inside the humor.