Today, I have been arguing with my friend, Jeremy, on whether or not the series why ’13 reasons why’ can be considered an inspiring series. Truth is, different people have different opinions, and while I believe so, he completely disagrees. The series has got massive reaction, and despite it being good series, it has got negative criticism, being claimed to ‘glorify suicide’. While the criticism may be true, I think that it draws us from the main agenda or aim of both the writer of the book and producers of the series.
I believe some movies and series such as 13 Reasons Why, Big Little Lies, Hidden Figures and Barbershop : The Next Cut (just to mention a few) are necessary movies/series. Why? They touch on real-life issues that people are afraid of talking about. Let me get a little deeper with this and highlight some of the issues that each of those which I have mentioned above touch on (and if you haven’t watched any of them, do check them out):
i) 13 reasons why : Suicide, bullying, depression.
ii) Big little lies : Domestic violence.
iii) Hidden figures : (Beyond the history of the movie) Racism, sexism.
iv) Barber shop – The next cut : Gang wars and crime.
With that long introduction, I will encourage anybody who hasn’t watched 13 Reasons Why to watch it. If you haven’t watched it and don’t want spoilers, then maybe hold back on reading this post a little bit, because I do mention a few scenes here and there. If you don’t mind just a bit of spoilers, please continue reading.
7 LESSONS FROM THE ’13 REASONS WHY’ SERIES
1. Your life is God-given.
This is the most important. We are all aware that there is a Supreme Being who controls our lives. We were created for a purpose, and there is a reason for each one of us being alive. It may not feel like it (your life may suck on six out of seven days) but you need to hold on to the little hope that God has greater things planned ahead for you, because, truth is, He does. Don’t give up on your life.
2. Things get better.
Life isn’t all rainbows and candy. It gets difficult. We see people everyday, but we never truly know what exactly it is that they go through. Some people go through ‘hell’ on a daily basis. You may feel like there is no point to life. Your problems may not necessarily be as big as Hannah Baker’s (they may be very small), but they may be greatly destroying you inside. It may feel like it’s storms and darkness, and you may think that you will never see the sunshine again but it does get better. Tell yourself that it’s going to get better tomorrow. If it doesn’t, tell it to yourself again the next day. Eventually, that tomorrow will be better.
Never give up on your dreams and never give up on life, because you never know what the future holds. That moment when you decide to give up, may be the exact moment when your breakthrough was coming.
3. You are not alone.
I want us to interpret this in two ways:
1) There is a scene where Marcus said that (paraphrased), ” Nothing that Hannah went through was different. It happens to every girl in high school.” Allow me to say that I do not in any way think that this is a good thing. It is terrible that such things would happen to an extent that they are deemed ‘normal’. It is sad. It is very wrong. However, I think this statement will help me to illustrate this point. You are not the first or the only person going through the problems that you are facing. There are other victims or people battling similar wars, and if you don’t want to talk so as to help yourself, then at least do it to help those who are going through, or who may end up facing the same if nobody steps up. Save a person from that horrible experience. As for dealing with your own struggle or pain, this is the reason why there are help groups to everything and anything. You have to tell someone about whatever you are going through, and if it’s suicidal, get help for it. If it’s an addiction, don’t be ashamed; you aren’t the only one struggling against it. If it’s failure, don’t be discouraged, you are not the only one who has faced it. Millions of people go through the same hardships as you do. You are not alone. Talk to somebody.
2) God is right next to you. No matter what you are going through, or how you feel, remember that God is right there next to you. Don’t give up. Hold on. When the world pushes you to your knees, you are in the best position to pray.
4. You are bigger than all the trash people say about you.
This one works two ways as well:
Remember when I posted this picture? Maybe not, it was a while back but here it is again. What type of people are we to those around us? I personally haven’t experienced exactly what Hannah experienced in that series, but I couldn’t help wondering if I have in any way been the reason behind someone’s tears, or if I have been the reason why someone considered ending his / her life. I know it’s deep and intense to think that way, but just consider it. It is not only taking a knife and stabbing someone that constitutes to killing a person. We kill people inside every day when we discourage them in the pursuit of their dreams, laugh at them when they fail or get rejected, embarrass or make fun of them in public, spread rumors or lies about them, judge them, gossip about them; do you get my point? We are the reason people question living, and it is not by pointing a gun to their head; it’s by those ‘very little’ things that we do. Be a better person from today henceforth. Be the reason that someone smiles today!
People have power over us only to the extent that we give them. One of the wisest things that I heard Rihanna say in a song is that, people will talk whether you are doing bad or good. My mum constantly tells me that, not everyone’s opinion matters. If you take into account what everybody says to and about you, then you will not live your life. You will just be a walking body, nothing else. Your life will lose meaning. You will feel terrible and question your very existence. Sometimes, you just have to be ignorant and not care about what anybody else says and thinks. Why are you giving people the satisfaction of destroying you? People are sick in this world. We cannot understand why they do some things even if we tried to, but we have power over how they make us feel. If something isn’t true, then don’t let it get to you. Even if it is true, but you are a different person, then that’s their problem. Do not be defined by what people say or write in the tabloids around you. We were not created to impress others. We were created for a more divine purpose.
Live your life, because those who know you well enough will not believe that trash anyway. Not everybody is worth your time or energy.
5. You are responsible for a lot of things in your life.
It pains me to write this, because, no matter what, Hannah didn’t deserve everything that happened to her. However, I am not here to censor my opinions; I am here to talk everything that I learnt from this series, so let’s do this;
I will illustrate this in two ways in terms of being responsible for what we do and what we do not do.
A) WHAT WE DO
There is a scene in the series where Zach walked up to Hannah while they were having lunch in school. There was a bit of arguing between them (or rather, quite a lot), but before Zach left (after Hannah shouting that he leave her alone and drawing the attention of the entire school), he said to Hannah, (paraphrased) ” A big part of your problems, you bring onto yourself.” When Zach said that, I hated him for a minute. How dare he? Did he even know what he was going through? However, I hate to admit this, but I do greatly agree with Zach. Let’s go to the scene in Bryce’s tape. Hannah herself said that she knew she shouldn’t have gone to Bryce’s party (considering all that happened at the last party), but she chose to go. After everything she had been through and knowing the type of person that he was, she still went. Result? You all know what happened. I am not saying that she deserved it. No. She didn’t. However, she could have easily avoided some scenarios, and just maybe, she would have had one more reason to live.
B) WHAT WE DO NOT DO.
Of all the things that Hannah did, I am probably most angry at her for this one. Remember Sheri’s tape? Yeah, the stop sign and that whole incident that caused Jeff to die. I loved Jeff so much. He was one of my favorites. Honestly, I almost cried when he got killed in that car accident. He helped Clay so much (okay, I will stop ranting). Hannah did make the effort to call the cops and report the accident, not realizing that by then, another accident (now involving Jeff) had already happened. It wasn’t her fault about the accident. That was on Sheri, right? But what about after that? Just to ‘keep her friendship’ with Sheri ‘safe / secure / whatever’ ( you know what, hold up! I don’t even get why she cared so much about what Sheri thought yet Sheri had made it pretty clear that she didn’t want to talk to her), she did not mention it to anybody. Not even Jeff’s parents who could have used the closure. Everybody thought that Jeff was drunk while driving, and that the accident was caused by him. Clay was mad at him for dying, not realizing that it wasn’t his fault. We may mess up sometimes, but there will always be an opportunity to correct our mistakes or to deal with them. What do you do then?
6. Your life means something to someone.
Be strong because, if at worst case, your life means nothing to you, it means something to someone else. Hannah’s life may have lost meaning; she felt like nobody cared. That’s okay. We feel that way sometimes, some more often than others, and some more intense / deeper than others, right? Okay, right, but c’mon, I want one person to tell me that he / she could not tell that Clay was madly in love with Hannah. Clay was extremely shy, yea? He didn’t tell her that he loved her (he should have but he didn’t) but are you kidding me? That boy’s actions showed it all. Even Jeff and Tony knew it. If Hannah’s life meant nothing to her, she should have taken time to consider that it meant something to Clay. In the first episodes ( and even the last) we see how much her death messed him up. Before you decide that nobody cares, think about it carefully. There’s is someone who cares for you. You mean something to someone, and beyond the love that man can give us, remember that you were worth the life of Jesus Christ Himself. Before you decide that you are worthless, think of yourself less and think of those around you. You mean something to someone.
7. Your story will inspire others.
Your struggles are what will keep others going when they lose hope. Your testimony is what will save someone from making the same mistakes that you made. Your story is what will inspire others, but you can’t tell that story if you give up on life. Hold on. You will be the reason that someone else doesn’t give up on their dreams, on love, on their pursuit of success; you will be the reason that someone else doesn’t give up on life.
This series may get all the criticism, but, like I said, it was a necessary show. It may seem insane, but it did inspire me to be a better person.
Even if you are not facing the same troubles as Hannah or struggling against depression or anything of the sort, how are you changing or impacting on the life of someone who is? Be there for others, and carefully censor what you do and say.
In the same measure, keep yourself going. Even when it’s tough, remember that greater things are coming, and that moment when you give up may be just when your breakthrough is coming. Don’t be hard on yourself for any mistakes that you have made. Forgive yourself and move forward as a bigger and better person.
Lastly, accept any wrongs that you do, and use those lessons to live a better life. Another character that I really liked was Alex. He messed up, but from the very first episodes, he had already taken responsibility for his actions. He knew that he had contributed to Hannah’s pain, and I admired him so much for publicly owning it, unlike the rest who cared so much about their reputations and refused to own up their mistakes. He did end up being sort of suicidal because of all the pressure, but he stepped up to all those ‘friends’ of his who were being cowardly and selfish (and I really hope he gets help in season two if at all there is one).
That is it; my review of 13 reasons why and the inspirations that I drew from it. That being said, remember that:
Find joy in the little things. Seek the beauty in life. Your life means something to someone. Have a beautiful week ahead!