Life lessons for new grads from our fave TV teachers

The start of June means the finish line is near for students who have been hitting the books for a good eight months now. And while everyone has earned some congrats, seniors deserve the highest of high-fives—we know, you’ve been running for a while now and your legs are ti-red.

But good news! We’ve gathered some nuggets of wisdom from your favorite TV teachers (and faculty members) that will hopefully do the job of metaphorically replacing your electrolytes, as well as give you the energy to pick up the pace when you start your next adventure. So, drink up.

Emma Pillsbury, Glee
“They say it takes more certainty than talent to be a star.”

Let’s replace the word “star” with whatever it is you want to be. The point here is that you don’t have to be the best at any one thing to actually be doing it—and being the “best” isn’t really the point, anyway. What’s important is believing that you are capable of doing something great, and continually working towards that. Because it’s not so much your talent that’s going to propel you towards what you want, but more your belief in your talent.

Jess Day, New Girl
“Life’s messy. It kicks you in the ass. That’s right, I said ‘ass.’”

That’s right, I’m including this seemingly un-inspiring quote, ironically from one of the most optimistic sitcom characters out there right now. But, it’s not for the purposes of emphasizing that life can suck, but rather to let you in on a little secret for when you’re feeling like yours, in fact, is sucking. Here it is: It’s not just you—everyone gets life’s boot tread imprinted on their rear end from time to time. So when it happens, just keep moving forward. It’s the best way to keep your ass out of life’s kicking range.

Mr. Collins, The Wonder Years
: “I don’t understand math. I’m lousy at it. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.”
Mr. Collins: Good. [He crumples up the “finished” test that Kevin confessed to having not even attempted.] Maybe now you’re ready to start.
Kevin: Wait a minute, I just told you, I failed.
Mr. Collins: There’ll be another test in two weeks.

If you’re lousy at something, there’s always time to get better. And there will always be another opportunity to put your brilliance on display.

Ms. Othmar, Peanuts
“Wahwah wha-wha-wha wahwah, wahwahwah wah wahwah wahwahwahwahwah, whawha.”

I mean, think about it. She’s totally right.

Will Schuster, Glee
“Who cares what happens when we get there, when the getting there has been so much fun?”

In other words, focus on being happy in the moment—that way, whenever you happen to get “there” (and FYI, there will actually be lots of “there”s), your arrival will just be the cherry on top of all the awesomeness that happened along the way.

Lily Aldren, How I Met Your Mother
“There are certain things in life where you know it’s a mistake, but you don’t really know it’s a mistake, because the only way to really know it’s a mistake is to make the mistake and look back and say, ‘Yep, that was a mistake.’ So really, the bigger mistake would be to not make the mistake, because then you’d go your whole life not knowing if something is a mistake or not.”

Clear as mud, right? I think the message here is, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but also, there are no mistakes because sometimes you don’t know until you try. In short, it’s just as important to know what you don’t want as it is to know what you do—sometimes even more important.

Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights
“Don’t just stand by and watch it happen.”

Participate, get in there, and generally grab a piece of that action. On all levels. Whether it’s just engaging in a conversation with a stranger in line at the coffee shop, or going for that job you really want—don’t just stand there when there’s fun and good stuff to be had by making a move. Though, it’s completely fine to be an observer at times. Moving into a situation can sometimes be like jumping into double-dutch ropes: there’s a timing to things, so it’s okay to wait for that moment when conditions are best for not getting all tangled up.

And, the best Coach Taylor quote of all time that simply cannot be skipped: “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”


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