Since I’m a 20-something girl looking for direction in life after post-secondary education, Girls has become somewhat of my bible. It appealed to me immediately—with Hannah, a freshly graduated and eager aspiring writer getting slapped in the face by reality over and over again…Marnie, her best friend and confidante who’s obsessed with image and what is “supposed” to happen with her life….Shoshanna, another friend, is unfailingly vibrant, loud, excitable, and youthful..and Shosh’s cousin Jessa is a wild card. She can never be pinned down—to any place or person. She’s tried everything—twice. Adam, Hannah’s love interest, ignores her for weeks after chance romantic encounters and drives her absolutely insane. I have friends like this; you have friends like this. This is basically my life (save for the accidental crack incidents), and there are lessons to be learned from these characters and stories.
1. You have to stop being a jobless dreamer after you graduate.
It’s time to suck it up and get out there. You had your years of freedom and fun and now it’s time to grow up. Dreams, goals and aspirations are wonderful, but you need to be realistic about them or you’re setting yourself up for failure.
2. You have to stop obsessing over finding the perfect first real-world job.
Your first job out of school is not going to be the ideal, perfect job you always dreamed of. The sooner you realize it, the softer the blow. Don’t be too proud to start small and work your way up somewhere. I realize you paid for an education to get a good job, we all did, but you didn’t pay for assurance that you would find one right away. It’s real life, and many people are in the same boat as you, make the best of it.
3. Don’t be selfish.
Hannah is quite possibly one of the most selfish characters on TV right now. Sometimes the things she says and does make you physically cringe. She’s self-obsessed but she’s also a reflection of us in this day and age—the twenty-something post-grad. We’re young and we’re selfish, our whole generation is. We think we deserve it all. Take steps to be more willing to compromise and see things from other people’s perspectives—and also to be happy with where you are and what you have.
4. Don’t let anyone treat your heart like it’s “monkey meat.”
Speak up. If you don’t like the way someone is treating you, let them know. If you don’t feel valued, say something. If you feel used, say something. If you feel horrible all the time, tortuously obsessing over what the other person is doing and thinking, definitely say something. Know your worth and demand better.
5. Appreciate your parents.
Much of Hannah’s anger is directed towards her parents (especially when they cut her off). She feels unsupported and abandoned. The reality is however, that her parents bankrolled her entire education and lifestyle up until that point. They were only trying to push her into becoming a real adult. They meant well, I believe. Appreciate the things your loved ones do to help you out in life, and understand that when they get harsh, they’re usually doing so for some sort of greater good—for you.
6. Appreciate your friends.
Hannah has good friends in Marnie, Shosh, and Jessa, but she often neglects them for boyfriends and writing and whatever other personal turmoil she’s dealing with. She’s a bad listener. When her friends come to her with problems, she’s always flipping it back to herself and her own issues. Don’t do this to your friends. Value them, hear them out, and offer good advice so you can avoid the blowout fights these girls always wind up having.
7. Embrace your sexuality.
Hannah has no problem with being naked. She has no problem trying new things. She also has no problem with experiencing new people. Her very aura is liberating—and it’s something to be applauded (only when being safe, of course; nobody wants to get HPV from their gay ex-boyfriend Elijah).
8. Don’t give up when faced with hurdles.
When she can finally see her dream coming to fruition, barrier after barrier is put up in her way—but she doesn’t let that stop her. The same goes for you. Realize what you’re passionate about and pursue it—and don’t stop just because it gets tough.
9. Don’t sacrifice your dreams for someone else’s.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity you’re passionate about to make someone else happy. Don’t avoid telling someone about something exciting in your life because you’re afraid that it will upset them or that it’s not a good time for them to hear it. If they love you, they will be happy for you, bottom line. You need to do what’s best for you and what makes you happy.
10. Feel everything.
This is one thing Hannah has said that has stayed with me. She wants to feel it all. Realize and respect the emotionalism of what you’re doing. Don’t shy away from expression and experience because you’re scared of what will happen or how it will feel. Just be yourself, feel what you feel, and be authentic about it.