Lessons from ‘Friends’ that every twenty-something needs

I was born in the late 1990s, I graduated last year during the pandemic, and I am freaking out.

Here’s why: I will be in my mid-20s and still have not achieved something big. All my friends are either working on their Master’s thesis, getting married, divorcing, or working on a HUGE project. Whereas I don’t know how to make the best out of my 20s.

There are a lot of choices, and I feel I’m way behind. I decided to ask older for a piece of advice, but this didn’t work…so I started watching ‘Friends’.

If you don’t know about Friends, let me brief you about it. There are six people, they are in their mid-twenties living in New York, and life happens. They work, fall in love, fail, become sad, become happy. Many people love Friends because we can relate to it. It’s realistic. 

Each Friends character teaches you something about life and how everyone goes about it in a different direction. For example, one of the characters, Rachel Green, who reached her mid-twenties without doing or achieving anything. She was a spoiled kid and her parents planned her life. They even planned who’s going to marry her. She didn’t think of doing anything productive in life because everything was planned for. She only became more independent when she left her “husband” and her family and started working as a waitress.

In honour of this, here’s a list of comforting things we can learn from each character’s storyline.

Ross

Be resilient. You will find love, and don’t rush to be in a relationship. If you find someone that you have a similar interest with, communicate, share your goals and commitment levels and stick to this person (the feeling should be mutual because love alone is not enough in any relationship). For example, when Ross had a crush on Rachel, he didn’t tell her for a very long period of time. He was looking for relationships just to make him feel fulfilled.

Rachel

Her job as a waitress teaches us to strengthen our weak ties to help you advance in life. What I mean by ‘weak ties’ are relationships such as your friend’s friends. These people might surprise you with what they can offer.  In Season 1, Rachel had a mental breakdown. She freaks out about her life and her job because she heavily depended on her father. Then, when she told everyone, including Joey, a ‘weak tie’, about that, he helped her find one. It was not the best, but it was the beginning.

Monica

Perfectionism is awesome, but you can’t be perfect all the time. Perfectionism causes anxiety, but you can take this to your benefit. For example, you can perceive anxiety as being detail-oriented, which is not too shabby for you to learn. It was a pattern you can notice in every season of how perfectionism affected her mental health. You can see this when Rachel first lived with her and organized and cleaned the house – Monica freaked out and wanted everything back to its place.

Chandler

Be calm and easy with yourself. Believe me, everyone feels insecure in their lifetime, but some people are more confident or there can hide insecurity more than others. We can relate to Chandler at some point in our lives. For example, when he was talking to Monica about relationships and meeting new people, he was telling her that when he meets new people, he feels stressed and anxious. It happens to many of us when we meet new people and we want to leave a good impression on them.

Phoebe

Such an interesting character! To be brief, show your crazy side, and don’t be afraid to say what’s in your mind. When she and Rachel started running, Phoebe was running “awkwardly”. Phoebe told Rachel “Why do you care? You don’t know these people!” If you’re not afraid to show your crazy side and be yourself, your life will be much easier.

Joey

You can pursue something you are interested in, but you need to be consistent, weigh things, and be patient. Joey has always wanted to be an actor, but pursuing a career in acting can be quite challenging. But by being consistent, he got different and sometimes big deals.

Friends didn’t only teach me how to calm myself down, but to value people around me and try to enjoy my limited time on this planet. Especially when you are in your twenties, you are rushing things and you want to have the perfect life. Relationship, love, and work will come. We need to weigh things and see how our 30, 40, or even 50 years old self would react to our decisions.

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