6 Reasons Why// 13 Reasons Why

It's been a few months since we finished watching 13 Reasons Why. If you haven't seen this Netflix series that had everyone talking, then here's your spoiler alert. The short of it is that this show follows Hannah, who leaves a series of cassette tapes, each featuring someone that impacted her life and ultimately factored into her decision to end it. It's set in high school, which can be a tumultuous time for young people in the best of circumstances.

It's made clear that not everyone Hannah mentions played an equal role in impacting her emotional well-being, but it's easy to see the threads and the snowball effect that these forces played in her life. As someone who has definitely experienced my share of emotional turmoil, there were a few themes that definitely stood out to me in the show.

1// The Little Things Matter
While it's easy to focus on the milestone events in our lives, oftentimes it's the little things that really make our day. Whether it's just meeting up with a valued friend for a 15-minute coffee date or getting a sweet note from a mystery admirer, those are the things that spark joy in life. Likewise, when you take away those seemingly small things, they can leave a gaping void in our lives. Such a simple concept, but the little things can and DO make a difference.
2// Sadness is Relative
What's true for me isn't always true for you...and vice-versa. A few months ago, a conversation turned to this show and there were some thoughts shared about the events that transpired in Hannah's life. My impression of that conversation is that their belief was that she hadn't really gone through something that was that terribly traumatic to warrant her actions, and they knew people that had been through worse. That perspective just didn't sit right with me.

Sadness is different for everyone. To say that what someone has experienced isn't great enough to warrant such an extreme reaction is dismissive and disrespectful. Here's the thing. People have taken their own lives for a lot more seemingly petty things. And people have persevered through seemingly impossible situations. You shouldn't be so quick to judge how strong or weak someone is based on how they've responded to situations in their lives.

I get sad sometimes. Sometimes I can tell you why. Sometimes there really isn't a rhyme or reason. Most of the time I don't feel comfortable sharing those feelings with others because I don't know how to justify them.
3// You Can Change Your Hair But...
There are some things that will always be beyond your control. I feel like one of the most deceiving statements is that you control your own happiness. Don't get me wrong; you do - to an extent. If you find yourself unhappy, maybe you should get a haircut. Maybe you should go back to school or move to a new town. Maybe you should save more money or take a sabbatical. But maybe...no matter how many things in your life you change, you still can't nail down that feeling of happiness you're searching for. Maybe you find that your feelings of happiness are oftentimes tied to the quality of your relationships with others. And sometimes there is little to nothing you can do to improve these circumstances. Because...

4// You Can't Change How Others Think and Behave, and Most Importantly, How That Makes You Feel
So, what happens when you've tried to change...your mindset, your appearance, even the quality of your interactions with others, but this hasn't gotten you to where you hoped it would? Personally, this is one of the hardest pieces for me. I had the realization that "hey, I'm not as happy as I'd like to be; I should do something about that. I should tell people how I feel and try to improve things." So, I did. I reached out to friends I hadn't seen in a while and told them I missed them and I valued having them in my life. I invited them over to visit or suggested meeting up somewhere if that was more convenient. To be fair, I currently live about 4 hours from where I grew up and where I know the most people, so I understand that people can't just pop in for a visit. However, I've made clear that it's important to me to just spend time together; I don't care if it's here or there. Even just having an annual get-together is better than literal years passing in between spending any quality time together.

We all know that you can't go into a relationship expecting to change someone, but that doesn't mean you're not going to find it hurtful when you're not feeling as fulfilled in a relationship as you had hoped. The heart of it is that you want to change someone not because you don't like who they are, but because you like them SO MUCH, you want to optimize your relationship with them.

But once you've reached out and you've enumerated what they mean to you and how you're feeling, where do you go from there? When you've poured your heart out to someone and they've barely reacted, how do you move forward?
5// Trying To Find Happiness
When all is said and done, aren't we all just trying to find our happiness? Granted, some of us are looking harder than others. Some of us have more unhappiness to overcome. Some of us feel like we'll never truly be happy. We keep looking. For as long as we can hold out hope. But when happiness seems unreachable, each day begins to feel harder and harder. You transition from looking for happiness to...

6// Looking for a Reason to Live
Hannah didn't want to die. As things started to spiral downwards, she was reaching out and searching for reasons to live. When she sat down with her counselor, this seemed to be her last-ditch effort, but the interaction still wasn't good enough for her. You see her hesitate when she walks out of his office, waiting to see if he'll follow her out, if he's truly realized the depth of the emotion she's struggling with. He doesn't.  She goes home and slits her wrists in the bathtub. She leaves the water running.

That may be an insignificant detail, but I can't help but wonder if she left the water running in hopes that someone would find her before it's too late. But it is too late. By the time her mother knocks at the door to scold her for overfilling the tub, Hannah is dead.

6 Reasons Why...13 Reasons Why resonated with me.  So, what to make of all this? My hope is that this can be an inspiration to encourage you just to be a good friend. The fact is that you never know all of what is going on in someone's life. And let's say you do have a pretty good idea; you'll never have a full understanding of how they FEEL. Sadness isn't an easy emotion to contend with, and talking about it can be near impossible for some.

I know I'm trying to do better. To reach out to people I care about. To be a better listener. These little things can make a difference. I can change my actions, but I can't change those of others, and sometimes I struggle to be okay with that.

Remember that what you see on the surface isn't always reflective of what's underneath. Finding happiness isn't easy, but it's definitely worth trying for.

P.S. Please reach out to me if you ever find yourself struggling with sadness. Life can just be hard and overwhelming sometimes, but I'm here to listen and help in whatever way I can. 💖💖💖💖💖💖💖


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