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My So Called Better Life

I read an article yesterday about the creator of the It Gets Better campaign.  While I understand the purpose of targeting this campaign towards the LGBT community, it struck me that this is a message that could have an impact on teenagers from all backgrounds, races, and sexual orientations.  I think that, at times, almost all teenagers need assurance that life does get better, perhaps some more than others.  I know that I did and, to be honest, even in my 30s I still need that assurance more often than I like to admit.  There’s a reason why some of the best movies of all times revolve around teen angst.  It’s a topic that almost everyone can relate to because we’ve all been there.

A couple of months ago, I rewatched all nineteen episodes of My So Called Life.  What drew me to this show seventeen years ago was that the main character, Angela Chase, was me… and I was her.  I wasn’t Kelly Taylor or Brenda Walsh or even Donna Martin.  I was Angela Chase.  I was the slightly awkward teenager who felt 1000 times more awkward than I actually was.  I was surrounded by friends and family who wanted the best for me but I refused to believe that I was good enough to deserve their love and support.  I was the girl who played the under the radar sidekick to her drama queen best friends.  I even rocked the oversized flannel shirts, just like Angela.

Rewatching Angela Chase in all of her glory – uncomfortably interacting with her family, trying to establish herself within the pecking order of her circle of friends and pining after the unattainable Jordan Catalano – made me wish that I could jump into a time machine to 1994, knock on the door of Patty and Graham’s rancher and just tell Angela that she’s so much better than she realizes and that life does get better.

“But when does it get better?” she will ask.  The tricky thing is, it’s all about perception.  It gets better when your own outlook changes.  Fifteen plus years after Angela Chase, there are still times when I feel like an awkward teenager.  A lot.  The difference now is that I love that about myself.  I think that everyone feels that way more than they would like to admit and that’s what makes a person relatable.  Nobody wants to be around someone who is flawless or who thinks they’re flawless.  There are people who you meet who come across as intimidatingly confident.  You have to realize that even they have insecurities.  I’m not talking about supermodels who claim that they were awkward dorks with no friends growing up and now look at them.  I’m talking about the people who you meet in every day life and think to yourself, “My life would be so much better if I had his or her confidence.”  I can almost promise that nobody is really as confident as you think they are.  No human being lives without insecurities.

So maybe life never gets to its “best” point but it does get better.  There comes a point when you learn to accept and be comfortable with who you really are.  You learn to surround yourself with people who encourage you to be yourself and who bring out the best in you.  As you become an adult, you are no longer friends with someone just because your parents are friends with their parents or because you wait together for the school bus.  As you move through life, your friends become the people with whom you choose to surround yourself.  They are the people who understand you, who care about you, who help you through life and who make the awkward teenager inside of you feel like she couldn’t be more perfect.  They’re your comfort zone.  Life gets better when you learn how to weed out the people who make you cry and rely on the people who make you laugh.  In the end, that is what’s going to make it better.  If I had the opportunity to go back to 1994 and give Angela Chase one piece of advice, that’s what I would tell her.  Then I would tell her to jump on the Brian Krakow train now because, in fifteen years, he’ll be the millionaire internet tycoon with the flock of girls chasing after him and you already sent that ship sailing.

Featured image via

by Jenni King

Visit Jenni’s blog at

Sponsored by: Ballerina Dancing in the Sand

  • Anastasia Villarreal

    The Get Better campaign always makes me feel better and I am almost 30 and not LGBTQ. I agree that it works over a wide spectrum. I think that it can get to it’s best. Like you said it’s perspective. What is best to you?

  • Sam Slama

    I was so awkward I high school. Now in college (and let’s be real, probably for the rest of my life)I doubt I’ve gotten any less awkward, but now I embrace it, and I’ve been happier. I’ve surroundedmyself with an amazing group of friends who accept my awkwardness, and I love them all to pieces for it. Loved this post and hope everyone really listens to this amazing advice!!

  • Presley Lynne

    I’m still a very awkward person. I’m only 19, but I probably always will be awkward. This article really touched me though. Thank you.

  • Angie Boyce

    Loved this post, thanks! I’m a high school teacher and I wish I could make so many of the kids know that yes, things change and get better! @Sam: I think so much of it is about accepting and embracing who you are.

    PS, I was an Angela in high school too, flannel and all. 😉

  • Abbie Currie Lee

    Oh Sam, I’m totally with you on the awkward bit. Yesterday, I thumbs up-ed and winked at my boss. I later told her sorry, that was super lame but she said she thought it was cute.
    And at Angie, I wouldn’t say I was an Angela in high school, but every time I watch that show, I defiantly feel like I am watching myself because that is exactly how I looked in high school (red hair, super skinny, same facial features, and all around awkward). Haha

  • Thu Ngo

    Great post!

    I was a bit too young for MSCL at the time that it aired, but watching it on reruns and dvd… yup, I definitely related. A mix of Angela and Sharon :)

    And yes, life gets better when learn how to start loving yourself. Something I’m still working on.

  • Michelle Gilbert

    Just recently last week I watched the entire season of MSCL too! I remember how much I felt connected to Angela and how she resembled the struggles that most teenagers go through. But as I’ve aged and realize after re-watching the show how much I understand and side with the parents this time around. Its bizarre that as a teen I would have never on my life, even for a second admitted that I agreed or understood how the parents felt or how they choose to handle certain situations. Now that I’m a parent and have some years behind me I realize that my views have changed. Life as a teen can be all consuming and difficult to see outside of that. As adults we always wish that we could travel back in time and tell ourselves from the past what we now know as our future selves.

  • Samantha Ritchie

    My So-Called Life is so unbelievably relatable. Very few TV shows have gotten the angst and awkwardness of high school so right without any condescension or making it cliche. I was too young to watching it in its heyday but asides from the outfits, the show is still relevant.

  • Christina Riewerts-Gorman

    I’m a psychotherapist and I am trying to launch a campaign encouraging people to embrace their so-called awkwardness and quirks. To be themselves, to BE RARE.
    That’s the name of it, “BE RARE”. I so wish I had someone to tell me that being ‘different’ and quirky was actually totally rad. Bummer. So much time and fretting wasted…
    Loved this post. I lived for this show.
    How about how no one has mentioned Jordan Catalano…I meannnnnn.! That guy gave me the shakes! 😉

  • Allison Razo

    In various It Gets Better videos encourage All types of people that life will now be as terrible as it is in highs school. I love that campaign. Even though I’m in a straight relationship, I appreciate their encouragement and their uplifting stories.

    I’m also watching My So-Called Life currently! I’m falling in love with it!

    Awesome Post!

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