Friday, April 28, 2017

13 Lessons from 13 Reasons

Hey guys! It’s me. Live and in stereo. Haha! Kidding! I was just mimicking a line from my current favorite TV series: 13 Reasons Why. It’s been almost a year since my last post and if it wasn’t for this show, I wouldn’t have remembered that this blog still exists. I needed an outlet for these thoughts about the show that my mind can’t contain anymore. Haha!

Watching 13 Reasons Why was like revisiting a dark phase in my life that I don’t want to be in ever again. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I went through a stage of mild depression and have had “Hannah thoughts,” too, for some time – well, not really taking my own life but just wanting to pause or reset life. It was the most debilitating and paralyzing period of my life and up to now, I still don’t know how I managed to overcome it.

13 Reasons Why, in case it’s unfamiliar to you, is a Netflix show and an adaptation of Jay Asher’s book of the same title. It’s about a high school student who committed suicide and left a series of cassette tapes to her classmates detailing the reasons why she eventually led to the decision to end her life. There were only two rules for the recipients of the tapes: first, they should listen and second, they should pass them on to the next person (in order of how their names popped up in the tapes). The end result that Hannah wants was unclear making it really intriguing. It’s such a great show with a powerful message. The actors were all so convincing and in just a series of 13 episodes, they will really manage to move you. In fact, it’s been days since I’ve finished watching it and it’s still on my mind.

Anyway, this is not really a review of the show but more like sharing a list of lessons I’ve picked up from it and how it stimulated my brain to ponder more about life. And since I see it fit, I’m calling this list my 13 Lessons from 13 Reasons:

So here goes.

01.  “Life is unpredictable; Control is only an illusion.”  This is a direct quote from Hannah that really struck me. Life is indeed unpredictable and no matter how we think our lives are already well-planned, tomorrow can change everything and if we’re not prepared for these uncertainties, we’ll lose. I’m not saying, though, that we should always prepare for something that might not even happen at all. What I’m saying is that we have to learn how to cope with sudden changes regardless of the impact they have on our previous plans.

02.  Words are like razor blades. Don’t we just hate it when people say bad stuff about us? Yes, they’re only words and can’t hurt you physically but they pierce through you. They damage you emotionally. When more and more people say the same things about you, they become your reality. The words of Hannah’s classmates created her negative reputation, which took a toll on how she perceived herself and was one of the reasons why she committed suicide.

03.  We are a part of a chain reaction. No matter how useless or insignificant we think we are in this world, there will always be someone who will be sad and miss us when we’re gone. We’re like pieces of a huge puzzle here on earth and every piece affects the entire picture.  

04.  There’s always more to life. If there’s anything I’ve learned having gone through that “period of darkness” is that there will always be something after that. There’s life after every failure or problem. Things constantly change and we may be in a dark place right now but it will get better. It has to get better.  

05.  Suicide is never an escape and definitely not an option. While some people think that suicide is the easiest way out or the best solution to a heavy situation, it’s not! Just think of the people or the things that we’ll leave behind. Also, think of where we’re heading after death. I mean, if there’s really life after death, I bet we won’t be in a very good place given that we took our own lives, right?

06.  “You can’t stop the future; you can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn is to press play.” This was a tagline (?) the show used and it really captured what it’s all about. It’s about life and how we live it. We can’t have a perfect life, in fact, there is no such thing as a perfect life. There will always be trials along the way that are inevitable. We will definitely fall several times. And while we can always dwell on the “what ifs” and “if only(s)” of our lives, we can’t undo things. All we can do is move forward and aim for a better one.

07.  Have the courage to say or do things while you still have time. It’s in our nature to procrastinate, you know, do things tomorrow when you could do them today? But come to think of it, we don’t have forever. In a snap, tomorrow can be too late. One of the best parts of the series was the scene where Clay imagined the things he would’ve said to Hannah given another chance. Those words could’ve changed Hannah’s fate but sadly, Clay was too scared to say them when she was still alive.

08.  We can never really know for certain what a person is going through and how we contribute to that situation. Just because a person always smiles doesn’t mean he/she has no problems. Likewise, just because a person always looks like he/she’s carrying all the weight of the world doesn’t mean he/she really is. I mean, we all have issues and we deal with them every day. And it gets more unbearable when people around us treat us bad.  That’s why we should be more sensitive about how we treat each other. We should be more careful about our words and actions.     

09.  Give life a chance. As I’ve mentioned in item no. 6, there is no such thing as a perfect life but give it a chance. Learn to see the good side in every bad situation. Focus on how you can turn a bad situation into a good one.  Remind yourself that you only have one life and you should at least try and live it to its fullest. Life isn’t all that bad. It’s just a matter of perspective. And if I may inject my very own mantra here, “life isn’t about longevity but   about quality.”   
10.  Mistakes are inevitable; we just have to live with the consequences. It’s in our nature to make mistakes whether they are deliberate or unintended. But the thing about mistakes is that they can be a good teacher. They teach us lessons we can’t learn in school or at home where actual people guide us. With mistakes, we do them on our own. And so we just have to learn to live with the consequences that these mistakes entail. Mistakes don’t make us a bad person. We become a bad person when we keep repeating these mistakes despite knowing the effects that they bring.

11.  Depression is real. When I first had this gloomy feeling, I initially thought it was just nothing. I thought it was only boredom. But as the days went by, I noticed that the surroundings get “darker” and it’s getting harder to wake up in the morning or even breathe. That’s when I realized that something was wrong. I was depressed for reasons I still can’t clearly identify as of this very moment. Anyway, all I’m saying is that depression is real and it happens to everyone and it’s a serious issue.

12.  Do not focus on your miseries. There’s really truth to this lyrics in a Gotye song that says, “You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness.” I don’t know but when I was depressed, I hardly see the good in life and all I wanted to think about was my situation and how to get out of it fast. I wanted to know what’s at the end of that dark tunnel and it’s hard to go through the day feeling like that. So yeah, do not focus on your miseries and instead, talk to people – your family or friends – and let them know how you feel. It helps a lot.

13.  Cling to God. What the show didn’t focus on at all was Hannah’s relationship with God. Yeah, she was a good daughter in general but she’s not perfect. I think if she had a stronger bond with God, she wouldn’t have done what she did. I can’t speak for everyone but prayers helped me go through those dark times. When no one wanted to listen to my stories anymore, I would just pray and talk to God. Seriously, like a casual talk with your best friend or someone who knows you by heart. The amazing thing about prayers is that you don’t actually hear a response but you feel that you’re being answered. And with prayers, you can just let all the inhibitions go and just be yourself. Say what you want to say. Trust me, you’ll feel better.  

So that’s the end of lesson 13. There’s nothing more to say. Haha! Those were like Hannah’s final words I just borrowed. Kidding aside, I hope you guys get a chance to watch 13RW. You may not love it as much as I did but you’ll definitely learn a thing or two from it. It’s still streaming on Netflix. J