236 episodes. 10 seasons. One of the most popular television shows of all time. Friends revolves around the intertwined lives of six friends who navigate their 20s and 30s in New York City. Categorized as an American sitcom, the series definitely lives up to its name. Each episode is created with the perfect amount of comedic timing, sarcastic remarks, and playful banter. But behind that comedy lies a plethora of teachings to take away and implement into our own lives. As a bigger-than-huge fan of Friends myself (I’ve watched the entire show more than three times), these are the five main lessons I have recognized and continuously try to implement in my own life:
- Don’t be afraid to take risks.
As college students, this is a particularly important lesson to retain as we are currently in the process of paving our paths in life. Oftentimes, we get stuck on the idea of only sticking to one path after we start walking on it, but this is far from the case. From the very beginning of the pilot episode, we see runaway bride Rachel Green aspiring to restart her life, from relationships to career moves. As someone who has never held a job before, she starts as a waitress and slowly works her way up to be a successful woman in the fashion industry. Rachel Green teaches us that it is never too late to change our path.
- Laugh away your problems (literally).
Despite being a sitcom, Friends covers many serious topics ranging from divorce to surrogacy to single parenthood. Lacing these situations with humor allows for deep, difficult topics to be highlighted and discussed while maintaining a tension-free environment. On a similar note, being an Honors student comes with a rigorous workload, a wide-range of responsibilities, and countless social obligations, which can quickly lead to us feeling overwhelmed. Taking a step back and giving ourselves the space and opportunity to laugh can help relieve the stress we may be holding onto. So the next time you feel a stress wave approaching, laugh it away.
- Worry less about what people think of you.
This one may seem like an overused given, but it truly does make all the difference. All six friends have their own unique personalities that make them stand out, and none of them are afraid to be themselves. From the start, Phoebe Buffay quickly becomes the most notable character in terms of quirkiness. And what makes her even more appealing is the fact that she is so comfortable with her authentic self, regardless of what anyone else thinks or says. Like Phoebe, rather than getting caught up in other people’s opinions, we should focus on embracing our true selves and making the most of our experiences. Phoebe Buffay’s carefree lifestyle is a clear-cut example of how learning to be okay with our quirks and flaws will only lead us to feeling happier.
- Things will always find a way of working out.
Life is not always easy, filled with endless ups and downs, and this series does a great job portraying that. One example is Ross and Rachel’s relationship, one of the show’s central plots, which takes us through a roller coaster of the pair getting together and breaking up. Another example is Joey Tribbiani, a struggling actor, who continuously follows his passion, even when it leaves him in an unstable financial situation. While these are only two of the many complex situations that arise, they are prime instances of things eventually getting resolved with time. In the end, Ross and Rachel do end up together and Joey’s career is at its peak. Whatever happens in life really does have a reason, and no matter how complicated things get, it will always settle down and work out.
- Hold your true friends close.
And last but not least, how could we talk about Friends and not actually talk about friends? The series represents a period in people’s lives where they are a big part of each other’s families. This youthful phase of life, from college days to even after graduation, is where young adults try to discover themselves. And, naturally, those who are around us the most, our closest friends, are on the journey with us as we all find our way. So, like Ross, Chandler, Rachel, Joey, Monica, and Phoebe, hold your true friends close.
Of course, there is a multitude of other lessons sprinkled throughout the show, but these five are the ones I found to be most applicable to life as a college student. Comedy is no doubt the central theme of Friends, yet there is much more to gain from the deeper layers of the show.