In 2012, One Tree Hill aired its last episode and TV was never the same, at least for me. I grew up with the series, all nine years of it. And throughout those nine years, I always knew, no matter the character, no matter the situation (which, OK, were sometimes way over the top), the series would always provide an honest reflection of what it feels like to be a teenager.
When the last episode aired, I felt just like I did when the Spice Girls performed for the last time, and when Harry Potter’s last words were written: something a little life-altering was coming to a close.
But it turns out the lessons I learned from living vicariously through Tree Hill have totally stuck with me through the years. Here’s an earnest round-up of the many, many things the show taught me (aside from a keen sense of early-2000s fashion).
When your first dream dies, life goes on.
Lucas’ dream was to play professional basketball. When a heart condition eradicates any chance of this, he’s left to pick up the pieces of what he thought his life would be. Now, he needs a new dream. It takes a brave person to leave behind the life they always wanted and dare to dream a new dream.
Your art matters.
Peyton is this oxymoron of cheerleader and loner. In the beginning of the series, she’s dating the most popular guy in school and is best friends with the cheerleading captain. Behind closed doors, though, Peyton finds solace through her art. When she finally learns that her art matters, we all learn the same thing.
Love conquers all.
The fact that Haley knows herself well enough to make a life-changing decision about marriage at only 16 years old, gives teenagers everywhere the courage to trust themselves. And, obviously, her relationship with Nathan makes everyone believe that true love does, in fact, conquer all.
If you dream it, work for it, and persevere, you can achieve it.
Nathan works his whole life to play in the NBA, with more than enough obstacles: a drug-induced removal from play, point shaving for money, a rescinded offer from Duke University, a pregnancy, and a spinal injury (from being thrown through a glass window). Despite all of this, not only does Nathan manage to walk again, but he does make it to the NBA. Talk about inspiring.
You are more than just the girl behind the red door.
Particularly in high school and when the movie-making of An Unkindness of Ravens takes place, Brooke struggles with shedding her high school image. She faces a constant battle of getting people to recognize her as more than just the popular girl. She isn’t just the high school party girl, the clothing designer, or “the girl behind the red door.” There is a whole lot more that makes Brooke Davis who she is. And once she realizes that, other people do too.
At any given moment, an underdog can rise.
Mouth is one of my favorite One Tree Hill characters. Leaving aside the fact that he starts out as a minor character and then ends the ninth season as one of the main characters, Mouth is a total underdog who rises. He goes from being the somewhat anonymous kid on the river court, to Sports Announcer for the Ravens, to being friends with the most popular kids in school, to becoming the face of Omaha news. It just goes to show, high school isn’t the rest of your life.