When Gilmore Girls premiered in 2000, I was a bookish little 10-year-old girl from a small town. I dreamed of getting out and seeing the world. As I sat on my couch and watched Rory Gilmore walk into show’s very first episode over 16 years ago, I immediately found someone I could relate to, someone I could aspire to be, and someone I could learn from.
I had no idea at the time, but that TV character, who I would essentially grow up with over the next seven years, would become one of the most positive pop cultural influences in my life.
Not only did she encourage me to work hard, be independent, and put family first, but Rory Gilmore inspired me to become a writer.
Thanks to Rory, I have a serious coffee addiction, I’ve read more books than I can count, and I can talk faster than anyone in Stars Hollow (okay, except for maybe Lorelai), but a sharp tongue and caffeine withdrawals aren’t the only thing I can attribute to her influence.
Rory Gilmore taught me a lot of life lessons — one of the most important of which was that, with a lot of hard work and little faith, I could become a writer, too.
All of the grown-ups I knew had real jobs, like teaching or carpentry or office work, and none of them had gone very far from where they grew up. I figured when I got older, I’d end up doing the same thing they all had — that was, until I got to know Rory Gilmore.
A quiet, smart, and bookish young girl who declared early on in the show that she wanted to be a reporter, see the world, and share her stories, Rory’s character immediately connected with everything I felt and thought as a small kid with big dreams.
As I watched her work tirelessly for what she wanted — studying late into the night to keep her grades up, volunteering on weekends to beef up her college resume, going undercover to get the most interesting story for her college newspaper — I started to realize that it didn’t matter where I lived or what my parents did. It only mattered how hard I was willing to work to get what I wanted out of life.
Thanks to Rory Gilmore, I helped start my high school’s first newspaper.
I knew that, since there wasn’t already one in existence, I would have to make one if I wanted to get my name on a byline. I later became the Editor in Chief of that very same publication. When I got to college, I rewatched Rory’s early days at the Yale Daily News, and they helped give me the courage to walk into my own university’s news room and ask for a job.
When I was terrified to send out pitches to real publications post-grad, I remembered how nervous Rory was waiting for responses of her own, and felt reassured that it was all just part of the grand writing process.
The truth is, Rory’s failures and missteps didn’t make me fear the possibility of my own lack of success, but rather taught me that even the most successful, the hardest working, and the most dedicated people fall sometimes.
The important thing is that they get up, and that they get up in their own way. When Rory hit rock bottom in college — she dropped out of school, stopped talking to her mother, quit writing — nothing and no one could convince her to wipe the dirt off and get back out into the world. Instead, she had to find the strength within herself to keep following her dreams. That kind of determination, that kind of faith in the face of failure, ingrained in me an attitude of optimism.
I heard the criticism Rory got for bad writing, watched her be told that she didn’t have what it took to be a reporter, and saw her get rejected from her dream job, but I also got to see her persevere through all of that to finally achieve her end goal: becoming a real writer.
Like Rory, I have had my own missteps. I spent two years after graduating working in publishing instead of perusing my writing aspirations, because I thought journalism was dead.
I’ve had pitches rejected from numerous publications, pieces ripped apart by harsh editors, and published work criticized by readers, but whenever I feel like this isn’t the right path for me, I ask myself one single question: What would Rory do?
With the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life reboot right around the corner, I have mixed emotions of excitement and fear when it comes to finding out the fate of Rory’s career. Will she be incredibly successful, surpassing my wildest dreams, and become an unattainable fantasy? Will she understand the same daily trips and stumbles I do as a professional writer? Will her dreams have changed at all, and will they affect my own aspirations?
Only time and a session of binge watching Netflix will tell. Until then, let me say: Thanks, Rory. I couldn’t have done it without you.