I love “Friends” – both the long-running television series and my actual ones.
But I always thought the show “Friends” was unfair in some ways – it set some unrealistic expectations for the young adult on the brink of living out their personalized American Dream in some big-name city. For example, the fact that Monica could at least temporarily afford a swanky two-bedroom apartment in NYC on a chef’s salary is mind-blowing. Likewise it seems crazy that Rachel’s Central Perk earnings in the first few seasons were enough to satisfy her expensive fashion choices. And the amount of dates/relationships-gone-wrong in the show makes for great storylines, but the “You haven’t gone on a date in a MONTH??” dialogues created a somewhat impractical expectation among faithful viewers when it comes to how long a “dry spell” should be.
I usually hate the mostly-stupid theme songs for TV shows, but The Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There For You” are more than affirming when it comes to realizing that a) life sucks sometimes and b) that’s normal:
“So no one told me life was gonna be this way…” *clap clap clap clap*
If I could insert the Hallelujah/Amen hands emoticon here I would. I was in fact, never informed that my life would turn out the way it has.
Maybe you know it, maybe we’re not good enough friends for you to know, but I’ve recently achieved a significant, post-college milestone – the real, full-time, 9-5 job. With medical benefits and a 401K that will kick in after my probationary period (which is why I’m writing about this now, before I potentially get fired for doing something stupid because I’m young and stupid).
What started out as a little writing internship at a local paper in June turned into a full-time staff reporter gig just a few weeks later. Although I had been working part-time at a law firm at the time and even when my editor/now boss encouraged me to do an impromptu interview with the publishers, things miraculously worked out and I am proud to say I have acquired a position related to my degree so soon after graduation.
(Let me just take a moment to emphasize that English majors being able to take on jobs within their fields is so so so rare. If you made a drinking game out of how many times I was asked “Oh, so you’re going to be a teacher?” during my education, the medical bill would be a sorry sight indeed.)
^^Of course, I only bring this up after a short time because I am fully aware of how quickly it can all be taken from me.
Anyway what I like about the show FRIENDS is that it IS realistic in that the titular friends don’t always win. Like when *spoiler alert* Monica gets fired, Chandler struggles to quit smoking, Joey’s acting career is mediocre at best and Ross is…well, Ross.
“It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year…”
This particular season of life has been a more difficult one for me. For awhile there, I had to come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be going to grad school anytime soon and am a little embarrassed to say I felt –in some ways – entitled to. I know, so stupid.
I was/am away from most of my [college] friends this summer, none of whom live in close proximity to me. Not being able to readily muse over our joys but mostly our woes was something unpleasantly new to me, and I’m still in the process of “starting over” now that I’m home again without that support system so near.
And even though I’m relatively young, I feel “too old” to not know how to do, act or feel certain ways about things. I still live at home (NO SHAME!) and I still need help filling out my W-2 forms. I should also probably learn how to change a tire.
More recently, I’ve questioned my worth as an overall person. Am I a witty observer, or am I just a callous cynic? Am I really smart enough to do X, Y and Z, or were all of my professors simply boosting my ego? Why did he have to fall for someone else? Did that friendship fall apart because of something I did or am? I’m not a crier by nature, but that has been tested a number of times these last couple of weeks.
I’ve always liked the saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” and I’m learning more each day how important this is to put into practice. I.e., maybe that older gent I was on the phone with a couple weeks wouldn’t have been such a condescending jerk if he knew I was preoccupied with thoughts about my grandpa’s health. And maybe I wouldn’t have been as short with the cashier if I knew he was having marital problems.
I won’t stop pretending I have it all together because that’s what humans do, or at least what societal construct has us do. But I think just as much as we need to recognize that life is going give us all a swift kick in the arse, we need someone to say “I’ll be there for you,” and actually mean it.
So even if, dear reader, we never meet or become actual friends in the traditional sense, consider this my acknowledgment that you are standing in the downpour, and I wish to extend to you an umbrella.
And in spite of everything, like the brilliant Chandler Bing, perhaps try to take it all in stride and with a pinch of dark humor.