Okay guys and girls, I am officially hanging out with superheros. The Hulk and I are fist bumping, Spiderman and I are making secret spidey handshakes, and I am NOT going on the Jaws ride because it doesn’t exist anymore. Hooray! When I’m not busy earning a cape of my very own, I’ll be by the pool with a fruity drink jamming out to Bob Marley. Not a care in the world.
Do you hate me yet?
The lovely Victoria is here taking over my blog today (all the way from England, might I add). I’ve mentioned before, but I totally love my international peeps, so I’m really excited to have the chance to showcase some of her fabulous work. She’s an absolute doll, and when she pitched me the idea of writing about the life lessons she learned from the show Friends, I practically melted. She is funny, endearing, and pretty much makes you say “awww” throughout the entire post.
SO, without further delay, please show lots of love and give a warm FRIENDLY (get it?) welcome to Victoria!
Things I Learned From Friends:
Hello everyone! This is not your usual Finding Gravity post – my name is Victoria, and I’m here guest-posting while Carley is away. I’m a 2nd year university student from England – born and raised in London; I’m now living and studying in Durham, my new home-away-from-home.
Despite the 300-mile distance between us, my best friend is still my best friend. I mean, I’ve known her more than half my life – she knows too much for me to let her go! She nagged me for years to get into watching Friends, but at school it was always on TV at the wrong time, and when I did watch random episodes, I didn’t really understand what was going on. I also didn’t understand the jokes my friends made about it; references that passed me by; catchphrases that I couldn’t join in. So in my second year at university, in a second-hand DVD shop one day, I came across seasons 1-4, for just £15 (maybe $20?) and bought them on a whim. Little did I know; I was going to get hooked…
Within the last 4 months, I’ve watched 9 seasons – with just half of season 10, the shortest of them all left – it’s time to put fingers to typing. I want to write about what I’ve learnt from Friends. It turns out, some days watching an entire season (that’s what university vacations are for, right?!) means you really feel like you know the characters. You draw parallels with all sorts of things from your own life. Nevertheless, the reason I wanted to write this post to think about all the things I’ve learnt from my friends, and Friends.
1. Life is about learning to love and accept friends as the family you can choose.
Your family are the people who are around from the very start – they make you, but they don’t always define you. Also, you can end up many miles away from them; they are often right (maybe even too right?) and are supposed to love you, no matter what. They fit a specific set of criteria in your life; but you don’t get to choose them. They are who they are, and you are who you are. Your friends, on the other hand, can define who you become. They grow up with you, go through the same kind of things, and don’t have the same biases your family might have. If that dress makes you look silly, they’ll tell you; if they think you deserve better, if you need to pipe down and keep your mouth shut, or if you need to speak up; friends are on your side even when you are not. Especially at times when your family aren’t around, for whatever reason, your friends will be. Love them because they love you. Accept them, because these people put up with you – voluntarily – which probably makes them as bonkers, and as loveable, as you are.
2. Friendship is the basis of strong relationships.
It took Monica and Chandler 4 seasons to get together, and they’d known each other a long time before that. Similarly, despite Ross’s years of unrequited love for Rachel, they became friends before they became anything more. Although I really would not advocate systematically fancying your friends, just on the off-chance of a wonderful relationship blossoming, it’s really important to remember that deep and meaningful relationships need a strong foundation, rooted in trust, sharing and friendship. It means you have plenty in common, not just a physical attraction but mutual connection.
3. It is good to be comfortable with each other (i.e. The One with the Boobies).
This applies both to your friends and any ‘significant other’. I don’t really mean this in a bare-all way (!), more that you have to be comfortable that they know you; with your feelings, views, sexuality, opinions, choices and all the rest. There is something really nice, as a girl, having guy friends that don’t fancy you but appreciate that you are attractive. Little boost, no hassle. So get comfortable – hugging, sharing, or just being there – it’s not “touchy-feely”, but being too distant can either push people away or you just never let them in; ultimately, you can lose out on a great friendship. I live with 3 guys, and their eating habits make Joey’s maternity-trousers and food-binging days look restrained! But then, when I have a bad day and turn to the Ben and Jerry’s, or have second helpings of my favourite macaroni cheese – I don’t judge them, they don’t judge me. Being mutually comfortable saves a lot of time, effort and nonsense – just have fun being friends!
4. Sometimes, you need to put people behind you, and get out of bad relationships.
Early on in the series, a running joke was the way Chandler would always get back together with Janice; like many relationships, especially on-off ones, there comes a time when you simply need to move out and start afresh. When your gut instinct is telling you to leave and not go back, trust that inner voice. Without the relationship necessarily being ‘toxic’, your dwelling on it can make it so. Over-thinking, over-analysing – it’s easy to be guilty of it, but sometimes it’s time to put an end or a stop to it. Your friends and family will be there to pick up the pieces; but the longer you keep repeating the same mistakes, the more reluctant they can become. Honesty with yourself is just as important as honesty with the other person, and with your friends.
5. If it’s “meant to be”, it’ll work out in the end.
Having said that it is important to move on, there are times when you have to assure yourself that it’ll work out in the end. Ross and Rachel are my key example here; I know this might seem contradictory advice, but it’s being able to tell the difference that is the tricky part, really. I recently heard the phrase: everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it isn’t the end. I’m not just trying to be profound for the sake of it; trusting that things will work out if they’re supposed to can save a lot of sleepless nights and depraved phone calls to your best friend. Life doesn’t necessarily have the happy ever after, or the ride off into the sunset; relationships require work, and getting together with someone is not the end of the journey, but the beginning of another. So if it’s not working, I reckon it’s either a test, work at it some more; if not, maybe there’s a reason it’s just not right.
6. You always need someone funny in your life, no matter how bad the jokes.
It’s really useful to have a friend who’s good at hugs, good at phone calls, and good at baking… and so on. Often, though, I think the most important thing is that you have a friend that makes you laugh. It doesn’t matter if you laugh with them, at yourself, whatever; laughter is the best medicine, for being down, for being broken-hearted. Laugh, and the world laughs with you. It’s incredibly difficult to have a friendship or relationship where one person is constantly moaning, complaining, being down – there’s a place and a time; it’s OK, because you have to be able to share these things. As long as it’s not all the time, every time – take the time to laugh together, and the times when you cry together will be put in perspective.
7. With your Friends, you can weather the storms of unemployment, being broke, dating, break ups, relationships, family, weddings, pregnancy, fertility problems… and so much more.
Don’t shut out the very people that can help you cope. Being comfortable with them means it does not matter if they see you on the off-days, when hormones/stress/the world is getting you down. In all probability, they might have had a similar experience; they can help you through it if you first let them in. Yes, it is tempting to retreat back to bed, refuse to leave the building; let your friends in and at least there’ll be someone there to sit and eat the ice cream with you; to make you a cup of tea; pick you up and make you smile. Life is not meant to easy, but friends (and for me, Friends), make some days so much easier to get through. You and they will have highs and lows, separately and together, but no one should have to go through life alone – it doesn’t matter how far away they are physically, as long as you are emotionally close, the world will seem a better place.
The theme tune defined the decade-spanning show as much as any single attribute could. The Rembrandts tell us, twice an episode, I’ll Be There.
I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour
I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before
I’ll be there for you, because you’re there for me too.
All these life lessons really can be learnt just from a TV series! It doesn’t matter if you have never seen it, if you don’t like it (but, I mean, really?! Try watching it right from the beginning…), whatever. Also, don’t get hung up trying to work out who’s who amongst your friends… it can end badly. I simply think these are important life lessons, whether you learn them from Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross, or you learn them somewhere else. It doesn’t matter how you learn the lesson, as long as you do.