If there’s one role model from TV that will help you through any academic rut, then it’s Rory Gilmore from the much loved Gilmore Girls. I started watching Gilmore Girls when I first started university. Reruns came on at around 2 pm, which was just when I got home from my lectures; and instead of finishing off the afternoon by studying, I chose to watch Rory Gilmore…studying, constantly. It took me so long to get my academic drive in gear, but ironically despite the fact that I procrastinated with TV, the show actually helped me kick my butt in gear.
I suppose I needn’t even introduce the show, or Rory, because the world is already Gilmore-obbsessed, especially since the mother-daughter duo will be back on our screens soon. But if I were to explain who Rory was to alien visitors, then the first characteristics that would come to mind would be how utterly, utterly devoted she is to her academic life. From her school work, to her rising career in journalism, I learned so many lessons from Rory, both the good and the bad.
Her parents, grandparents, and pretty much everyone around her were always stunned by her achievements even as a young child, and as she grew up during the span of seven seasons, she achieved more than most grown adults could achieve in a lifetime.
I assume a large portion of the Gilmore Girls audience were Rory’s age when they first started watching the show, so we practically grew up with her as she made her way through Chilton Preparatory School. Now Chilton was no ordinary high school, it pushed its students so hard you’d have thought they were doing college work.
Seeing Rory doing such complicated work in class, and getting A’s through and through, was firstly horribly intimidating. Actually I think it came at a time when I got my (thankfully one and only) D in my Social Policy class. But the more I watched her succeed, and the more she fell in love with her books and papers, I realized I had the ability to do so too.
Seeing someone on screen be hyper organized, and determined to break their own records, is such a motivational thing. Just by looking at Rory’s books piled on her desk, or looking at the majestic Chilton building, was enough to send me off on a studying binge. Okay so I still had a long way to go, but it was a start. Rory basically made being a swot cool, in a nerdy and cute kind of way.
The good thing about how hard Rory worked, was that it worked. It was a healthy way to express herself and make sure she would eventually get her dream job. But in all honesty, she sometimes didn’t go about it the right way, and this brings me to another important lesson I learned from her: to not overwork myself.
Despite her love for learning, and reading, Rory’s stress levels were often through the roof. In several episodes we saw her rushing to class in fear of being late for tests, staying up late to finish papers, I mean heck a deer even hit her car (not the other way around) during a mad-dash to school one morning. All in all she nearly destroyed her self esteem with the fear that she just wasn’t good enough.
Stress can be a good thing, in small doses, but it’s a wonder that Rory didn’t have a heart attack during one of her exams. From this, I tried to teach myself that my worth was not based on what grades I ended up getting, or how confusing I found certain subjects. I did the work, took my breaks, and got on with things. I knew if I didn’t find that balance between fear of failure, and just not caring if I failed, then I’d both fail my courses, and end up feeling like utter dirt.
By the time Rory got to college nothing much had changed, but by then – much like myself – she had learned how to incorporate a social life around her studies, which as much as the older generation don’t believe; this is vital in maintaining a healthy academic life.
Something else I can thank Rory for was inspiring my journalism, at the time I had no idea I’d want to make it my main career path, but as I watched her grab scoops for her prep school paper, and the Yale paper, it made me so interested in writing newsy topics. It showed me, also, that you can’t just write what you know and love, but you have to really get into the story, to investigate it, to edit it till the first draft has been annihilated.
The next lesson I learned would be a painful one, for me and for Rory. Just as she was in her journalistic swing, Rory grabbed an internship with her boyfriend’s father; nice gig right? Wrong. He utterly crushed her spirit by telling her at the very end of the internship that she wasn’t cut out for journalism. Now I’ve never been told this myself (yet?) but early on in my writing days any little bit of criticism could have me in tears, so I could imagine that what Rory went through would be one of my worst nightmares.
After a failed pitch or a badly written piece, I often get mentally blocked, and sometimes don’t write for days; but Rory stopped writing for months on end, and even took a year off of college due to this heartbreak. I’m not going to really call this a mistake, because sometimes we don’t need a day off; we need a full year off, but it was something Rory would eventually regret. This taught me that though we do need long breaks sometimes, we can’t drop something we love just because we’ve had a blow to our self esteems. We have to get up, dust ourselves off, and get back to it. Which is what Rory did after some time off.
Some things go wrong, for a long, long time. I know that, and I experienced it myself in a smaller way; there were times were I’d go months without getting any work done, or I’d give up on a project I worked really hard on because someone didn’t want to publish it. Now I know that I just need to keep going.
After a while she did return to academia, and made it her mission to get work in journalism; she rose from the ashes back into the career of her dreams. And guess what: she got it. The job she got was temporary, and paid peanuts, but it was an opportunity of a lifetime and she knew she had to take it.
I could go on forever about everything else I learned from Rory Gilmore, and each episode of the show that inspired me to work as hard as I do now. I’m sure I’m not the only one, and I hope that new audiences who are watching Gilmore Girls for the first time during high school or college, will gain the inspiration I got…just whatever you do, maintain a good pre-test sleeping pattern, and look out for deer on your way to school!