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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Stuck in Second Gear


So no one told you life was gonna be this way...I never knew the truth in those lyrics until very recently. For years, I had watched sitcoms just like Friends, allowing me to fantasize and look forward to the years of growing up ahead of me. I was so eager to splash around in a fountain wearing matching outfits with my closest friends or strut down the Upper East Side in a tutu skirt just like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City. These shows, and so many others, were centered around the growing years; the twenties and thirties we all experience.

 It is without a doubt that these years spent charging full force into the real world are some of the greatest years of adventure and struggle and bliss. A messy cocktail with a sweet garnish of anxiety disguised as an umbrella hovering over the glass. I am still very early into my twenties, yet I can't help but gawk at the fact that I am far beyond my teen years, the years that felt so safe and filled with immense confidence. Where did all of that confidence drift to? Another hopeful wide eyed blonde girl in a small town high school assembly, I do hope.

One thing that has remained sweetly consistent since my pubescent years is my love for a sitcom. These mindless short episodes full of larger than life characters, outrageous plot lines and tender moments have always been my escape mechanism. I will always invest in my favorite series, movies, and lengthy seasons of comedic reality that are so near to my heart. The truth is, I learn something new, or better yet, relate to something new with each episode I re watch. These sitcoms and other series that depict the knack of growing up have shaped us into our twenties and beyond, without us even knowing it.

The older I am getting, the more I am realizing how the twenties seem to be nothing like they are depicted in a sitcom and just how fascinatingly realistic these stories are. Bravo to that.
     
      (i.e. I have never related to Rachel Green more than the past few months as I am pouring coffee for others, just dreaming of successfully living that big city career life one day. Oh and HOW do these three girls have money for all of these cute outfits, and just curious what their rent may be living in a giant Manhattan apartment?..)

It is quite fun to see just how well our "twenties" seem to line up with Hollywood's standards. And the results I have found, very scientifically, of course, are quite encouraging. A list just brushing the bullet points of this revelation. Some truths that we unknowingly relate to, and other truths that perhaps we could add to our own lives.

A checklist for your growing years, according to your -- er-- my favorite TV shows. More specifically, the timeless series, FRIENDS. (Thanks, Netflix for the recent rebirth!)


  • Have your Central Perk
Perhaps it is simply because a sitcom has limited sets to work with, but the idea of having a single meeting place, a go to, provides a comforting sense of consistency. The many chats exchanged on the large couch at Central Perk, or the hilarious banter that charged through the living room painted an iconic shade of purple; these places made Friends immensely charming and so easy to yearn for.

The best thing is, most of us have our Central Perk, our places that we flock to for comfort and sustainability, without even knowing it. Not everyone is a creature of habit like I tend to be. For me, though, I love having my go to places that become associated with the people I meet there. At this point in my twenties, my "sets" are varying. I have a set for work, and home, but also sweet places to spend with those I love. Nick and I find ourselves at the local coffee shop or family owned deli around the corner from my apartment quite often. Here we can share a bite to eat accompanied with conversation and some smiles. There are sweet breakfast hubs that I eagerly look forward to returning to, as I know I'll get to share a scene, some genuine time with some of my closest friends and family. It could be simply the city that you dwell in or a specific comfy couch you and your bestie always share the best talks on. Begin to notice those places that bring you joy and force you to create memories with others.

  • Have your thing that you DO
To put it quite simply, very rarely did you see a thirty minute episode revolved around the plot of Monica, Rachel and Phoebe laying in the living room scrolling through feed after feed. How boring, honestly. These characters and interactions have been so successful because there is action taking place. This is the perfect time to find a hobby that is actually exciting to you. Keep your days spent at work exciting. Plan a fun outing on your days off. Take the time for yourself whenever you need it, but fuel your days, that are brutally limited, by doing something. I catch myself far too often wasting precious time gazing at a screen. I am choosing for my sitcom to steer towards a new plot line. After all, it is situational comedy -- create a situation!

If you are scratching your brain trying to think of something to do, go buy a new couch and get a few of your closest friends to help you carry it up the stairs to your apartment. Let the "pivoting" commence.

  • Have your people that are there for you
You become a sum of the people you spend the most time with. We saw the bond evolve on Friends. The group of six had somebody anytime they needed a somebody. They annoyed each other, they loved each other, and they created moments together through it all. Having your people is so important. Sitcoms have displayed a truth that I have begun to apply to my life: quality over quantity. It isn't about the number of loved ones that surround you, but the positivity, joy and strength they bring to your daily life. 

Keep in mind as well, just as guest stars make quick appearances in various episodes of a long series, there will be guest appearances in your life as well. Some friends that come into our lives are not destined to be a series regular, and that is okay. Love the moments they spend making a guest appearance, and go on with the season when that episode ends.

  • Cue the laugh tracks
No matter how many times I have seen an episode, I will still laugh out loud when Phoebe sees Monica and Chandler together for the first time, or when Joey just can't seem to get his "French" language down. For years, this show has provided us all incredible reasons to laugh, and that doesn't seem to be stopping soon.

Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. Make others laugh, make yourself laugh. It truly is the greatest medicine on the market. Some of my very worst days may hold a giant belly laugh at 11:30 pm, and suddenly that day became great. Let laughter surprise you, let it play. Our favorite characters dealt with some hard and relatable issues, but there was always a punch line that peaked through. We do not need to belittle our hardships, but we can find the joy through them. 

My dad has always wished me a good morning by saying "Be sweet, and make someone laugh today." I try to do that every day, even if that 'someone' is me. 




And so, I don't believe that there should be any shame that Friends and shows like it are at the top of your favorites list. They certainly are at the top of mine. These shows may not hold suspense or murder, but they do hold incredibly relatable scenarios. Let us not forget the laughter that they hold as well. You see, our world is so painfully harsh right now and the journey into our twenties holds trials on its own, why not escape for twenty two minutes and maybe learn something about these years we are in? 


(** Check out the Warner Bros Studio Tour in Hollywood to see the recreated Friends set that is pictured above. The Elliott Fam had the best time! **)






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