How Dana Scully taught me to believe—in myself
Fox Mulder may want to believe in all the things, but there’s only one thing I really want to believe in. And that thing is not a thing at all, really, but a person and a truly, ridiculously, unbelievably (see what I did there?) cool one at that: Agent Dana Scully.
As much as I love both Agent Mulder and Agent Scully, a.k.a. The X Files’ infamous partners in fighting extraterrestrial/supernatural crime, there’s always been something special about Scully. There’s been something special about her from that first episode that aired back in 1993 through to today, as she returns to TV (alongside Mulder) in the new Fox limited series.
Admittedly, some of my attachment to Scully comes from the fact that, yes, she’s the woman of the duo. But, honestly, that’s part of what makes her amazing. She’s a real, true, strong female character and by that I mean she feels like both an actual human woman (even when she’s going up against the most inhuman of things!) and an extra special human woman, one of that I, nay we, can all look up to (while we’re also looking out for UFOs). And, in the spirit of the ever-questioning Scully, I have all the proof lined up right here for you!
She’s doesn’t accept things as they are (or seem to be)
Surely Scully could have backed down from her disbelief in all things unbelievable the first time she and Mulder solved a case that seemed too crazy to not be true. Heck, she could have given in and just gone the way of Mulder after the 100th case, assuming that everything and everything is some sort of conspiracy brought to us by hostile parties (aliens, the government, etc.). But, no, in every single episode of this show, new and old, she’s always questioning what’s happening and not jumping to the big conclusion that Mulder, or anyone else, wants her to until she’s got enough evidence to really feel it herself. She’s was even still doing it in the new season premiere as Mulder approached her with a whole bag (a loaded one, too) of mysteries/conspiracies! And this is after she’d seen both Mulder and herself abducted!
Watching Scully question everything and everyone in a way that’s more rational than obsessive, I feel totally justified in being cynical when I feel I need to be, whether that’s as simple as not trusting a telemarketer’s claims that I “just won a cruise” or as complicated as refusing to accept that guy hitting on me at the bar is not the totally pervy creep he seems to be.
She’s also not afraid to accept that some of her beliefs may be contradictory
Some could argue that the fact that Scully is a faith-based individual might go against her refusal to believe in the extraordinary things she sees in her work. Some might say that because she believes in an almighty being out for our good that she should also believe in other beings who might be out for the opposite or whatever else, or conversely, if she believes in God, she shouldn’t be so bent on science. But you know what? None of that matters. Because Scully never stops believing in God just because maybe someone might expect her to. No, her faith actually fully wavers, even when she’s been through what could be some faith-defying situations (uh, that abduction thing). Girl was still wearing her signature golden cross in the event series premiere.
Now, I’m not a particular believer in God. In fact, I don’t adhere to any religious background, even though I was baptized and everything. But I do believe in a person’s right to believe what and/or who they want to believe, especially if they get comfort from believing in that thing. Maybe Scully needed to think of God to get her through some of her tougher cases, just like I need to think of Gillian Anderson and Scully to get me through some tougher work and life struggles (hey, if my almighty hero could do it, I can too!).
She’s also not afraid to have a little fun when she wants to
If you’re a fan of Mulder and Scully, you know about their spot-on sexy banter with one another. And it’s not just Spooky Mulder who starts this playful back and forth. Not that long after meeting Mulder, Scully is right in on the fun, calling Mulder a “sucker” for buying a probably faked photo (that’s my inner Scully talking!) from a diner around Area 51. And this not-so-light teasing continues as the series goes on, sometimes in a friendly way and sometimes in a flirty way.
Basically, while she may be the more rational of the investigatin’ duo, Scully doesn’t let her levelheadedness turn into a fear of silliness. And this is something I can learn learn from. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worried about the consequences of making a joke at work or at a party and as a result not even shared it at all, forcing myself into a shame spiral that turns into a regret. Then there’s the times when I’ve let my silly side take over (spontaneous celebratory dance party at the end of the work day, anyone?). And you know what? I’ve never, ever regretted those second times. In fact, I’ve thrived off them, using the light to lead me forward until I hit another dark patch.
She’s also seriously not afraid to rock a sensible, yet sassy suit
This might sound like a silly example in comparison to the other ones, but I’m deadly serious about it. Because if you’ve ever watched more than one episode of The X Files, you know what I’m talking about. And that thing I’m talking about is the fact that Agent Scully has got serious blazer game. The costume designers on that show? They knew what was up.
Now, a lot of us probably imagine Scully in the standard blue or black skirt suit with her FBI badge. But the truth is, Scully wore all sorts of suits in her time working on them X Files. We’re talking matching pastel pantsuits. We’re talking plaid blazers with slacks. We’re talking all of the above with an equally sexy and sensible button down shirt underneath.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a bit of a tough time adjusting to “professional dressing,” or, as I like to call it, “adult dressing” (because sometimes we gotta dress up appropriately in non-profesh situations too!). I love outrageous colors and fun patterns and you don’t always see those popping up in work environments, or even fancy events (seriously, how many black or blue dresses have you worn to weddings?). But looking at Scully’s fearless fashion sense, I feel empowered to make some bold choices in my own wardrobe, particularly on the job. Just recently I bought a houndstooth blazer from H&M to take on a work trip and immediately my boyfriend was like, “Is this because of Scully?” The answer: obviously.
This week, I read an interview where X Files creator Chris Carter revealed that he felt that Mulder fell for Scully the moment he met her. I feel the exact same way about her. Yes, I only started watching The X Files this past year (I’d seen the movies and some episodes previously, as my dad needed to see them with someone and my mom was not having it), but Scully’s greatness transcends time, space and galaxies in between because she seemed as rad to me watching that first episode as she clearly was to anyone watching the show in real-time. This is a woman who is clearly true to herself at all times, whether she’s getting dressed in the morning or dissecting a strange body at all hours of the night. And I want to believe I am, or at least can learn to be, like that too.
(Images via Fox, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)