I recently graduated college. It was very hard and I’m very proud. But, if I’m being honest, I now have no idea what I’m doing.
I know that I need to find a job, and I know that I need to make some money. I’m supposed to be happy and full, but also humble and polite. I’m supposed to blaze a trail, but also climb the ladder. I have to stay true to myself and make new friends, but also keep my old friends, and fall in love with someone taller than me, and maybe adopt a dog. I also think I’m supposed to eat more kale. And I’m trying, I really am, but kale sucks. And sometimes I panic and cry and sweat and end up calling my mom from under the covers.
My mom is a very nice, very wise lady. She usually says some iteration of “This too shall pass,” and tells me to breathe, and relax, and maybe pop in a movie.
I usually listen, because she is usually right. And no, watching a movie isn’t exactly going to solve my problems or help me find my life’s purpose, but it will probably stop my thinking and sweating for a bit — and just maybe inspire something other than self-pity.
If you’re feeling scared, and small, and restless, and like you’ll never get it right no matter how much kale you eat, I recommend dealing with your problems by ignoring them for a couple hours to watch fictional people deal with theirs.
Specifically I recommend the following movies because (a) they’re bomb and (b) if you watch these flicks, I can talk about them with someone else because I think my mom has had her fill.
I will talk about Legally Blonde until they bury my sparkly, pink corpse — and then I’ll deliver the gospel of our dear Elle Woods as a lightly-scented zombie. I LOVE Legally Blonde. I think I watch it once a month — or at least once every emotional breakdown. We’re all a little like Elle. Maybe we’re less tan, and have less money, and we wouldn’t cross the country to chase down some dude named Warner (ew) — but we’ve all felt lost, stupid, uncertain about our future, and afraid we’re not living up to our potential.
We’ve all felt that who we are isn’t good enough to get us where we want to go. But it is! We are! Elle is proof. She was a grown woman who didn’t know what she was doing. She didn’t know how to be a lawyer, or how to live in a place without family and friends holding her hand. She took a leap and figured it out, and she did it while staying true to herself and wearing pink. Amazing.
So this is another Reese Witherspoon movie, but this time, with foxes (and messages of self-love and forgiveness)! Wild is a great movie to watch when you’re down about the direction your life is taking — it shows you what can happen once you stop beating yourself up over things you can’t change. Cheryl Strayed — who is a real life, amazing superstar — decides that she doesn’t like the path she’s following. So she stops everything and embarks on a solo journey across the Pacific Crest Trail.
Along the way, she faces a lot of seemingly impossible tasks, but overcomes and shines, and reminds us that it’s never too late to be the person you’re supposed to be. If you want more, I highly, ardently recommend reading Strayed’s book Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love from Dear Sugar. Basically, I heart Cheryl Strayed and I think you will too.
Bridget Jones is important and splendid because it deals with something we don’t always like to talk about: love. As a modern, strong, capable young woman with a degree and a fanny pack full of snacks I packed myself, I hate to admit that I sometimes get sidetracked and stuck in situations of the heart. I don’t like that I care what boys think of me. I don’t like that I spend so much time thinking about my feelings, when I could be writing or running or climbing a mountain or saving babies from burning buildings. But there it is, the yearning for love and for the comforts of a relationship.
It’s normal and healthy to want love, even if you don’t know where to find it — or how to keep it. Bridget gets it. She would never judge you for drinking a little too much or staying up a little too late when you can’t get that annoying, beautiful person out of your head. She understands why you dress up for dates and royally embarrass yourself — all for the chance that maybe it’ll work out this time. Bridget understands why you try — even when your heart has been broken and it would be easier to give up. But she also finds a way to love herself first, to realize what she needs and what she’ll tolerate. And by wanting love — but not needing it to complete her — she’s able to live her life, take risks, grow gain, and find the person who deserves her. This is a good movie to watch if a breakup is holding you back, or if you feel like you’ll never settle down while all of your other friends are getting married.
A recent classic, Trainwreck is great for us strugglers because it features a protagonist who is completely confident, but also completely insecure and scared. Sound familiar? Amy Schumer brilliantly portrays Amy, a successful journalist who kind of hates her job, and kind of knows what she’s doing, but also messes up a lot. She doesn’t believe in love — even when it’s right in front of her. She’s trying to live her life her own way, but keeps getting roped into what other people want her to be — and she can’t find a balance. Amy takes minimal chances, yet wants to put herself out there both professionally and romantically — seriously, who else here does exactly that? And when it all falls apart, she takes time to figure herself out before jumping into any decisions. See, it’s okay to not know what you’re doing sometimes.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
An oldie but a goodie, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants reminds us that we don’t have to go it alone. Sometimes, as adults, we assume that we can’t ask for help or lean on people we love, but that’s just silly. We may all have different goals and differently-sized booties, but in the end, we all just want to be happy.
If you’re stuck or confused, or you just need someone to talk to, you can call your friends. You can call your mom. You can see a therapist or a pastor or a genie; you can admit that you’re having a hard time. We don’t have to be perfect and we don’t have to be right all the time. Adults are allowed to cry, and scream, and get angry when things aren’t going so great. You might not have a magical pair of pants to hold you tightly, but if you’re lucky enough to know people who love you, then no amount of bedazzled denim can compare.
Okay, just so we’re all on the same page, Hush is a horror movie. And it’s very scary, and it will make you triple-check that you locked all your doors. But you should still watch it, even if horror isn’t your thing, because HOLY COW — it is incredible. I want to go back to college just so I can write a dissertation on this movie. Maddie is a young, promising writer who lives alone and happens to be deaf. Everything is going pretty well, until some murderer decides that he is going to kill Maddie. Let’s just say Maddie is less than cool with his plan, and does everything in her power to thwart him. It’s a cool movie because it reminds you that your perceived weaknesses may actually be your strengths. And if you keep thinking and trying, you may just be victorious. Just don’t watch it before bed.
Good luck out there, lovelies. I believe in you, even if you don’t right now.