Sunday, June 20, 2010

Stuff I Love: Daria

A week ago, I turned 35.  I know a lot of people see this as a milestone, but for me, it really wasn't.  

See, I work with teens, and this has the unusual effect of making me both old before my time and perpetually young.   Thirty five is an inconceivable age to your average 12 year old, so yes, I'm old.  However, part of being good at what I do is trying to understand and appreciate youth culture.  So, today I spent 45 minutes reading Failblog and Auto Complete Me while listening to bands from the Warped Tour.  At work.  

So, 35 was really just a number.  But, being 20 years away from 15 did make me think about my teen years.  

Like most people I know, I do not look back on high school fondly.  I was the fat girl.  The one with no friends.  The weirdo with a target on her back; resented by teachers for being a smart ass and disliked by peers for being smart.   But I survived high school, got to college and realized that "the best years of my life" were yet to come.  I learned that being a mouthy little bitch wasn't a bad thing, but I needed to pick my battles.  

In short, my "story arc" was a lot like Daria Morgendorffer's.  

Daria, a spin off from Beavis and Butthead, debuted after I had kissed high school (and most of college) goodbye.  Despite that, I was a loyal viewer.  

Daria was way more articulate than I ever was, and got into way more wacky hi-jinks, but the way she moved through the world reminded me of myself.  Sometimes painfully so.  Daria never apologized for being smart, and she could deliver a sarcastic broadside like nobody else.  She struggled with being an outcast, but finally managed to accept who she was and be happy with it.  

Most importantly, as she matured, Daria came to see the world differently.   At the start of the show, Daria saw the world as black and white, right and wrong, us and them.  As the series progressed, she realized that people can change.  They can surprise you, and sometimes, you can surprise yourself.   She learned to care about others, and let them care about her. 

When I watched Daria, I really didn't need the affirmative messages it sent.  However, I was very glad they were there.  I could see, somewhere, bright young thing with attitude to spare being comforted by her animated spiritual sister.  Hopefully that girl took away something about being smart, being different, being yourself.  That those are good things, even if they make your life hard sometimes.  That's what I got from Daria, even in my worldly-wise 20's.  

In a nice little twist of synergy, my husband bought me the Daria Complete Series DVD set for my birthday. . It's a gift the me of 20 years ago would have approved of

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