LIE: you have a terrible existence if you don’t {xyz}.

Friends

A few months ago, a good friend introduced me to the show Friends.  Well, I need to back up.  Back when it was on TV, my parents used to watch it after they put us to bed and I would sneak out of my bed and watch it from the balcony.  They probably knew I was there, but I never got caught.  *sunglasses emoji*  I officially started watching it from Season One, Episode One back in May… and I’m hooked.

I recently had an almost-meltdown when I found out that my library didn’t have the season I was supposed to start next (seriously, what library buys the first six seasons of a TV show but skips over the fourth season?!), which resulted in taking total advantage of the Netflix free trial my mom got while we were at WITAlive and blowing through the episodes as quickly as I can.  (Don’t worry, I haven’t totally thrown away all of my free time – I’m using them as incentives to get my school done and it. is. working.)

As I fell in love with the show and the characters, I wondered why I hadn’t seen it before. Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody under, say, eighteen, and I’m glad I didn’t watch it until now because I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much.  (I’m three steps behind all of the characters because I’m just about to graduate college and figure out what to do with my life, while they’re a few years out of college and still don’t have it all together.  It gives me so much hope.)  Still, I was so happy that I was finally able to understand references to one of America’s greatest sitcoms (“WE WERE ON A BREAK!”) and enjoy all of the jokes that the generation before me enjoyed.

I typically like to savor shows and books (which is probably why I still haven’t finished Boy Meets World), but for a while with Friends, I kind of felt like I had to catch up.  It felt like the entire world had seen this show… except me.  I love watching episodes in between intense study sessions and as rewards for submitting papers and reading classic novels that I struggled to get through (classics aren’t my cup of tea, tbh, but I’m trying to develop a taste for them) and even just to destress after a rough day.  However, I think part of my (mild) bingeing of the show had something to with the fact that I felt so behind.  I wasn’t pressured by my friend to watch it after she said, “You haven’t watched it yet?!” – instead, I pressured myself.

I do this a lot, especially with books, shows, music, movies.  Just the other day, I incredulously said to a friend, “Wait, you haven’t. read. Harry. Potter?!” even though I hadn’t read them for myself a year ago.  Oops.

Especially with more popular things, I think people pressure others into doing stuff – almost guilt-tripping them into thinking they’re missing out on something because they haven’t experienced it yet.  “Wait, you haven’t played Pokemon Go?!”  “You stopped watching Downton Abbey?!”  “You didn’t like Fault in Our Stars?!”  “Wait, you’ve never had a pumpkin spice latte?!”  “You haven’t seen all of Sherlock – or read the books?!  AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A FAN?!”  I’ve had all of these things said to me.  And, yes, I’m guilty of all of them.  I haven’t played Pokemon Go, I stopped watching DA in the middle of the third season (for no reason in particular except the fact that it’s a soap opera and I have enough drama in my own life), I don’t love TFIOS, I’ve never had a PSL, I haven’t seen the last season of Sherlock or read all of the stories.

Does that make me a terrible person, though?

Nope.

Listen, just because somebody hasn’t seen or done a popular thing, it doesn’t make them a lesser person.  Not doing something doesn’t invalidate someone’s existence.

We can’t do it all.  So why do we pressure ourselves and others?

Just like I thought I was “behind” because I hadn’t seen Friends or still haven’t seen all of Gilmore Girls (and will probably binge on that with my sisters over the next few months in preparation for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life) or haven’t been to ComicCon or DragonCon or GeekyCon, other people feel the same way.  We’re pressured by society to experience everything that’s popular, especially music and movies and TV shows and books, but we’re also pressured to get off our rear ends and do something because all of our friends’ Instagram feeds are full of pictures of mountains and iconic places in foreign countries.

Our lives are expected to look like everyone else’s.  In Friends, all of the characters have finished college (except maybe Phoebe), gotten a job, and found an apartment.  That’s what society expects of us twenty-somethings.  And that’s great and all of those things should be desired.  But I’m almost twenty-two and I’m still living at home while finishing my degree.  I know friends in their mid-twenties who are still living at home, too, and are getting higher degrees or don’t have “real” jobs.  And that’s okay.

Just because something is the norm or part of pop culture doesn’t mean it’s automatically a part of everyone’s lives.  And discovering that that thing isn’t a part of someone else’s life doesn’t make them any lesser of a person – and it doesn’t make you any more of a person because it’s part of yours.

My existence isn’t lesser because I’m not seeing the world like some of my friends are, just like some of my friends don’t have a less fulfilled life because they’re not getting a degree like I am.

Do. not. guilt-trip someone just because they’re not interested in what you or a lot of the world is interested in.  If they want to stay at home and lay on the floor and just listen to music, let them do it!  If they want to use the money they earn to travel, let them do it!

Obviously you should compromise with your friends sometimes and obviously you should get out of your comfort zone and do stuff (or sometimes just relax and forego doing stuff). But it’s never okay to make someone feel bad for what they are or aren’t interested in.

More than that, maybe this friend is on to something.  If they’ll let you, lie down on the floor with them.  Ask if you can go on their next road trip with them.  You may be surprised and find yourself interested in the stuff they like to do, too.

So what do you think?  Have you felt pressured to do something by your friends or society, or have you pressured someone else?  Did you end up liking it?  Did they?  Leave a comment and let’s talk!

{This blog post is sponsored in part by my college coursework, which was gracious enough to be easy and let me finish it by ten in the morning – something that hasn’t happened since I was in elementary school.  THANK YOU.}

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16 thoughts on “LIE: you have a terrible existence if you don’t {xyz}.

  1. Pingback: year in review: 2016. | inklings press

  2. Pingback: August 2016 Month in Review – True and Pure

  3. Preach it, sister. I had being made to feel like an idiot because I haven’t done something everyone else is doing, or being made to feel like a lesser fan because I haven’t seen all of the movies or own merchandise.

    • Me, too! (And speaking of merchandise – you can still be a fan without having the t-shirt or all the books or gone to the concerts or seen all the movies in the theatre or on TV when they aired. This “lesser fan” because of those reasons thing is stupid and pointless. #LOVEALLFANS XD)

  4. I agree 100% with everything you said; everyone is unique and their hobbies, as a result, are equally unique. Saying “you MUST experience and enjoy this show/song/movie/activity, or else you’re super lame and not worth bothering over” just doesn’t respect that uniqueness at all. Like, I’ve never seen “Friends” and I don’t plan to–and I have a perfectly good reason for not watching it: to wit, that I don’t enjoy sitcoms and never will. But that’s perfectly okay!! I don’t HAVE to like sitcoms in order to be a complete person or a good American or whatever (although there are plenty of folks out there who’d tell me that I do have to . . .) So I really appreciate this post, because you’re NOT telling us all that we “need” to watch it–you’re just telling us how much you personally enjoy it. Which is really awesome 🙂

    • Amen! And you know what? THAT’S OKAY. Not everybody likes sitcoms and that’s perfectly fine. 🙂 I’ve never liked sitcoms, either, and some of them still annoy me. Thanks. 🙂 ❤

  5. I loved what you said about this! Growing up, I’ve always always hated it when people make someone else feel lame for not seeing a movie/hearing a song/going someplace etc. Or saying “you haven’t LIVED if you haven’t (done this or that)”. Of course, I admit that I’ve mistakenly said things like that to people myself, but I really try not to. There’s NO reason to make someone feel bad over something so trivial.
    Anyways, sorry if I kind of ranted there. 😛 I just loved that you wrote about something I’ve always noticed myself. Great post!! 😀

  6. Totally off-topic for a sec, but did you know there are now ads in your page? Not sure if you have control over that, but heads up anyway. The one I got was a Hilary Clinton campaign ad. 😄

    Back to the post: Wonderful job, Ash! Yes, I have been made to feel like I was missing something vital at times by people. At first, it bothered me and I would feel like I was being left behind. But, as I’ve gotten older (and a little wiser), I’ve realized that it’s ok to not be a fan of everything out there, or to like them to the extent that others do.

    I did watch DA, but also stopped after S3 for my own reasons. I haven’t seen Friends, but I’m planning to give it a try soon. I haven’t seen/read TFIOS, and I don’t plan to. Will I listen to others’ opinions on things and why they think I should/shouldn’t read/watch then? Yes, but I will make my own decisions based on my convictions.

    Basically, I’ve come to realize that only I can make decisions for myself. My parents did when I was younger, but they have also taught me how to make informed decisions on my own. Why should I let someone else do it for me?

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