20-something struggles as told by ‘Braceface’

Growing up, Braceface was THE perfect show. Coming home from jr. high and watching the very true struggles of teenager Sharon Spitz and her friends Maria and Connor definitely prepared me for high school. And then college. And now, my 20s. I didn’t realize until recently that much of what was discussed on Braceface would be relevant more now than it was back when I was a tween. Things ranging from jealousy, body image, and the pressure to drink easily apply to our young adult life.

As we navigate through our 20s, we might still run into certain peer pressures we thought we left in middle and high school. Our age, friends, and lifestyles may have changed, but the struggle to stay to true to ourselves has never been more real.

Here are some struggles that still ring true in our 20s, as told by Braceface.

Drinking all the dranks to fit in

We all want to wind down after a hard day of work/internship tasks/school (or whatever it is you’re up to these days) with a couple beers, but that doesn’t mean we need to take it a step further (or a step at ALL) to feel like we belong.

I’ve had my fair share of drunken nights —but really, my alcohol tolerance isn’t as great as my friends, so sometimes I feel a little pressure to take an extra shot. The episode where Sharon tries to impress her musician dad and his adult buddies reminds me of how I feel when I try to prove myself as an “adult” who can drink ALL the drinks. It doesn’t have to be that way though —we may learn the hard way (like the way Sharon did when she drunkenly humiliated herself in front of her friends), but as we grow up, we’ll understand our bodies and their limits and be OK with them.

Striving for the perfect body

The pressure to feel beautiful and perfect and desired (usually) will always linger. Though you may have a better understanding of who you are now that you’re not worrying about fitting into a prom dress, the pressure to remain a certain size or shape might always be around —maybe even pushing you to your limits.

Sharon definitely feels this pressure during season two when she senses that she has to lose a couple pounds to fit into a dress for the school’s fashion show. Nina, her nemesis, makes a comment about her weight and that is enough to convince Sharon to crash diet. But like most crash diets, her body can’t handle the malnutrition. With the help of her friends —particularly a major reality check from Maria—Sharon learns to accept her body and dismiss the media’s unrealistic beauty expectations.

Jealousy and break-ups

Sharon’s relationship with ex-boyfriend Aiden was definitely an eye-opener for me back when I was a 12-year-old dreaming of her first boyfriend. But looking back at it now, I can’t help but see their rocky relationship very differently.

Aiden breaks up with Sharon when she accidentally publishes a very jealousy-driven, angry letter on the school website. Though Aiden had a right to be upset with her for lashing out like that, haven’t we all been where Sharon has been? Jealousy is a normal thing to feel, but it’s also important to communicate our emotions and frustrations. Establishing trust with your romantic partner is essential —and if you do fight (which happens!), take a deep breath before saying something you regret. Remember why you’re with this person!

When your views change

Sharon’s decision to become a vegetarian in season one seemed like a phase to most of her family and friends, so it must have been surprising when she kept it up like she said she would for the next two seasons. There were even times when her stance on animal rights conflicted with her friends’ —which is okay, and also a totally plausible scenario for anyone in their 20s. Bottom line? It’s OK to disagree with your friends and family.

Whether it’s voting for a different candidate than your friends, or whether it’s a change of favorite food, as you grow older, your opinions will grow with you. If I had a penny for every time a friend changed their mind on things they firmly stood by when we were younger, I’d be one rich human. Though people change and views may conflict, that doesn’t mean someone is a hypocrite or that they’re purposely out to challenge you. Your friends and family are still shaping their character just like you, and growing together instead of apart is the core of friendship.

Being envious of others’ accomplishments

Your 20s are probably going to be the hardest years of your life (to be quite frank) — especially when it comes to finding what you really want and obtaining it. Some people will have it together before you do, and it might be hard to not envy them and compare your life to their life.

It’s okay to admit feeling envious or left behind when your friends move on to bigger and better things. It’s like when Sharon got a promotion at the summer camp she and Maria worked at —sometimes you’ll be the one ahead on the adult stuff, and sometimes it’ll be your friends. You just need to remember to be happy for your buddies and support them. Don’t worry —if we’ve learned anything, it’s that your time will come.

(Image via Disney Channel)

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