In honor of the start of sixth and final season of Girls on Sunday, here are six lessons these complicated, selfish, sometimes completely relatable women, have taught us about navigating your 20s (with a little recapping of season 5 weaved in). You’re welcome.
1. Fuck up.
Nobody is perfect. Despite who you think you are, and the person you think you’re going to become, you will make mistakes. Sometimes they can be attributed to lapses in judgment. Other times they’ll be fully calculated decisions. In either regard, let it go. Holding on to the guilt, regret, shoulda-coulda-wouldas, will get you nowhere. That shit will literally weigh you down. Your 20s are your time to fuck up. They’re your time to make questionable decisions. Like wearing mesh tank tops in public. To accidentally, and sometimes purposefully, take advantage of people. Like a boy who loves you, but you don’t love. It’s your time to try new things. To take risks. To fall too hard. To not care enough. To make as many mistakes as possible. Lord knows these four girls have made more than a few. But don’t you think they’ll be better for it in the end? It’s cliché, but there’s a reason why people say that that’s what your 20s are for. To teach you. To allow you to do the things that make you learn the lessons. To put yourself in position, so that when you make your way into your 30s, you actually have a chance to apply them. Or disregard them entirely.
2. Throw Away The Blueprint
Where do you see yourself in five years? It’s a question you get asked on almost any interview, or even in casual conversations with friends. But the answer you give is a reality that rarely, if ever, happens. Look at Hannah. She set out to be the “voice of a generation” or more simply, a writer. But that hasn’t always gone according to plan. From failed internships, to unsuccessful trips to Iowa, Hannah thought her dream would’ve come true by now. It was a part of her blueprint. But what she finally realized in the season 5 finale was that sometimes you have to go with the flow. Sometimes you have to take what life throws at you (like your best friend being with your ex) and roll with it. Or to use it in a way that betters you, instead of the catalyst that drags your down. To use it as an incredible piece of poetry, in front of audience at The Moth. To allow that to actually be the thing that helps you find your voice. Then look at Marine? Homegirl was ready for the white picket fence and 2.5 kids with Charlie when we first met her, and now she’s a wannabe popstar, on tour with her bestie’s ex, after recently sleeping with her now married ex-boyfriend. If you would have told her this would be her life, she would have laughed her pretentious laugh and told you you were crazy. Both Marnie and Hannah have proved that your 20s aren’t for living the life you want, they’re for figuring out what that life actually is. They’re not about living your dream, but about laying the foundation to help you achieve it. Basically? They’re about saying, “Fuck the blueprint” and seeing what else you can build.
3. Realize That Sometimes, It’s OK to Make it About You
Sometimes. Not like Hannah. Or Marnie. Or any of them for that matter. Girls has done extremely well (IMHO) at being aware of how unaware these women are. And with that often comes selfishness. This idea that it has to be about you. That somehow your problems are bigger. The amount of times Marine placed her issues over Hannah’s. Or Shoshana moved to Japan. Or Jessa put her relationship over her friendship. It showed how downright selfish these women can be. And while yes, they did it to the extreme in almost every case, the intent? Well, it wasn’t always so wrong. Too often it can feel like on the list of things you have to do, and the people that you care about, “me” falls all the way to the bottom. Other people’s dreams. Happiness. Problems. They all come before YOURS and that shouldn’t be the case. Rooting for other people. Being there for them. It’s all admirable, but somewhere along the way you have to add yourself to that list. Be a little selfish. Do something that makes you happy. Be like Shoshana and move to Japan for an incredible opportunity. But also having the guts to admit when something just isn’t working out. To take your life back into your own hands. To once in your life, make it about you, for realz. Nobody is saying you have to stop caring, just that you have to care about yourself a little more, too.
4. Follow Your Heart (Even If it Costs You)
This may be a gross over-generalization, but sometimes it’s hard for women to just do something “wholeheartedly.” It’s rare that we follow our hearts without letting our mind, instinct, or gut, weigh in at all. Most of the time it’s because living on emotion alone isn’t, well, practical (or healthy). But the truth is most people don’t do this because they’re scared. Nobody is saying to just follow your heart blindly, but if an opportunity presents itself, don’t you owe it to yourself to find out where it could lead? Here’s a controversial opinion. A hot take, if you will. Jessa found something with Adam. A man who happens to be her best friend’s ex, and by most #GirlCodes, would then make him off-limits. But Jessa chose to pursue him anyway. Should she have done it? Most people would say no. But did she owe it to herself to explore what her feelings actually were? Maybe. It’s not the “right” decision by any means. Its not what a “real friend” does. But Jessa has always been a free spirit. Someone who acted first, thought later. And while it’s no way to live your life 24/7/365, allowing what you feel to guide you is a weirdly admirable trait. Jessa knew what she was risking every time she was with Adam behind Hannah’s back. She knew what it would cost her. But not being scared to pay that price, to give yourself a chance at even a warped version of happiness, is sometimes a risk worth taking, and something more of us should try (hopefully minus the backstabbing). The trick is making sure you’re okay with the consequences; that the reward is worth the risk. The intense fight Jessa and Adam had in the finale proved that Jessa may not be so sure that it is. Something Ray’s trashed apartment could probably vouch for.
5. Rise Above The Bullshit
Being the bigger person isn’t always easy. Especially when the situation at hand hits you on such a personal level. But it’s possible. You just have to be willing to try. Jessa and Adam’s relationship hit Hannah hard (as most things do) but eventually she was able to sign-off on them being together. Literally. With a note that wished them luck, sincerely, and was signed in perpetuity. Is Hannah really okay with it? That remains to be seen, but for once in her life, she actually handled a heartbreaking situation with grace. She decided to rise above the bullshit. Did it hurt? Probably. But is she better for it? Absolutely. Hearing Adam and Jessa’s scream match behind the door pretty much proved it. She dodged that
bullet lamp. But she’s not alone. After everything Shoshana and Ray have been through, Shosh could have easily not wanted to help Ray with his coffee shop. Instead, she rebranded the shit out of it and made it a huge success. Seriously, the Times wrote about it. And all she had to do was get ride of the hipsters. The point is, from where these two started, to where they are now, they have grown up so much. I still don’t know if I would call them grown-ups because, reasons, but they’ve learned to stop handling the situations life throws at them like, well Girls, and started to rise above them like women can. And they’re stronger for it.
6. Friendship is an ever-evolving word
The four girls we saw taking on Brooklyn six years ago, are not the same women roaming the streets today. They’re older, wiser(ish), and pretty much hanging on to their friendships by a thread. This is the one thing that Girls has done so incredibly well. At a recent Times Talks, Lena Dunham spoke about how in movies and other TV shows, female friendships are always painted in two extremes: You’re either ride or die BFFs, or the friendship is rooted in cattiness, jealousy and/or convenience. But real female friendships tend to lie somewhere in the middle. They know that to get to the “ride or die” part, there’s probably gonna be some ugly in-between. Maybe for your friend group it’s without the backstabbing. Maybe for you guys it’s your lives moving at different speeds. Maybe your hoes stayed loyal. Maybe some moved away. Whatever the reason, friendships, like the people forming them, change. They test you. They change you. And if you’re lucky they make you better. But that doesn’t mean that this tested, changed, better version of you is still friends with the people who made you that way. More importantly, it doesn’t mean that that’s not okay. Countries. Marriage. Careers. Self-discovery. Girls had these besties deal with it all. It tried their friendships, and maybe those friendships won’t last because of it. And that’s okay. It’s cliche, but sometimes people really are only in your life for a reason or a season (or six). But it doesn’t make your friendships with them any less valid. It just makes them all the more real.
Bonus: Find a friend like Elijah. Because, duh.