If you're following me over on Twitter - you know that I have not been sleeping lately. I don't know why - whether it's procrastination or insomnia, or - I don't even know. So when the last season of 13 Reasons Why dropped last week, you can bet your bottom dollar I watched the whole damn thing. (I also had the season finale spoilt for me on Facebook from this amazing website who was saying they were giving a S3 re-cap, but was actually the S4 - and I'm still mad about that, but moving on) I'm going to try super hard to avoid spoilers because spoilers suck, but I can guarantee you'll have waterworks. Talking about waterworks, with my face puffy from balling my eyes out - I sent a message to my partner saying that there were absolutely things I was going to be taking away from the last season; things that 13 Reasons Why has taught me about my life, and the life that we lead.
And it got me thinking that one of the biggest themes, and a theme that this blog has not utilised well over the past few months - is the fact that we need to speak up about social issues. So this post is going to talk about the five things I feel most strongly resonated with me, and if you'd like to continue the discussion, you're welcome to do so in the comment section below.
Once again - I'm going to try super hard not to put spoilers in this post for the final series - but do presume you have seen at least up to Season Three. You do read at your own risk going forward.
1. Communication between people prevents misunderstandings
The number of times I wanted to throw my tablet across the bedroom watching the last season was insane. Especially when a character did something completely extreme because they didn't have all the information there, or if they'd just spoken up, or to the group or individual - it would have prevented a lot of the issues that were presented. Even when we look back through the whole series, especially season one - this is such a recurring theme.
When I look at my personal life, I know there have been many, many, times where if I had just cross-checked something with someone, or vice-versa, that arguments, and potential friendships could have been salvaged. One of the issues with having anxiety, and I mean, for most people in general - speaking up is hard. Avoiding confrontations is easy. Sometimes we don't want to hear the answer another person has to give. This is something though I think that we should all be working towards fixing.
It's really up to the individual person what this looks like. Is it talking to your parents about current social issues? Is it coming out to your friends? Is it something a little less daunting, like telling your housemate that it is actually their turn to do the dishes tonight? Having built up and pending anger is, as we've seen on the show, absolutely devastating.
2. We need to tell people with love them more often. Especially your friends.
My absolute favourite thing about this season was the fact that everyone was so open about the love of their friends. The over-arching theme of this season, is in fact, love. As a now 28 year old, this is something that wasn't openly done when I was going through high school. The whole #NoHomo movement was super strong. People were, and to this day, still are afraid to show that platonic affection.
I say fuck it.
Sometimes your friends are closer than any of your biological family. We again see this in the show with Clay and Justin, and their brothership is the most special thing ever. (Minus Charlie in S4. Seriously. That kid is a little ray of sunshine who needs to be protected at all costs.) It's further shown as well with Justin and Bryce in the earlier seasons before everything went down. And we can't forget this with Monty and the rest of the football team.
We shouldn't be afraid to tell people we love them. I think it's the most important thing ever to remind people that they're not alone. Being alone is super scary, and sometimes that little beacon of light of someone reaching out and just reminding you that you're loved - is enough to get through some dark times.
3. Everything we do has a ripple effect on consequences, even if you can't see them
In one episode of Season Four, Jess speaks to "Ghost Bryce", and asks how one person can cause so much hurt and destruction with one decision. It was part of a much larger scene, and again I won't go into to avoid the spoilers, but the question was one of the most direct things I've found of the series.
When we look back, everyone's decision to do something, or nothing, had a ripple effect on absolutely everything that followed. Whether this was something small, like a little decision to go a new way home, or something much larger (Looking at you, Monty.)
If we direct this to the real world, it's honestly no different. Every decision we make, regardless of our intent, has a consequence. This may put you on a path for the best thing in the world, it could also mean the absolute destruction of someone else's. This is also known as the Butterfly Effect, which is a really interesting read (The movie with the same name is an absolute mindfuck.)
Am I saying that we should be hypervigilant of everything that we do? No. We still have to live, but I think being conscious that things that we say, and things that we do - we should have an awareness of the potential of how this impacts others.
4. You need to own up and apologise if you're being a dick
Following on from our last paragraph, look. This is going to be slightly controversial but I'm going to put it out there. Your mental illness does not excuse you from being a dick. You being in a bad mood, does not excuse you, for being a dick. Being uneducated on something, and hurting someone else, does not excuse you from being a dick. Your feelings and emotions when you're angry and frustrated are valid, but as one of my favourite quotes says:
"When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don't get to decide that you didn't." -Louis C.K.
I'm not going to sit here and preach that I'm a perfect person. I'm absolutely not. I make mistakes on a daily basis, and I know for a fact that I have not been good at owning up to when I've been a horrible friend or person in the past.
One particular instance was only a month or so ago. I was on Twitter, and someone had posted up in regards to: When they reach their goal weight, they were concerned that they wouldn't be able to maintain it. Thinking nothing of it, and having a history with weight loss management- I commented on this particular thread giving suggestions of macro counting, or calorie counting, as they'd worked for me previously. The reply I got back was super cold. Like, this person wasn't haven't a slice of what I was suggesting. I thought it was the rudest thing ever, like I spent a while writing out that tweet, could've at least said thank you, right?
About half-hour later, I took a step back and decided to see what their problem was. Yeah. They'd be battling an eating disorder for over a year and were going through recovery. Calorie counting was never going to do them any favours. I was horrified. I immediately deleted my original comment but came back a little while later and replaced it with an apology explaining that I was new to following them, I didn't realise that this was the case, I'd gone and spent a bit of time on her blog to understand a bit better, and I was genuinely so sorry if I had upset them, or caused any distress.
You can change your views about something that you've said before if new information comes to light - and it doesn't mean you're a hypocrite, it just means that you've learnt from it and willing to change.
Was this super embarrassing to put up on someone's tweet feed? Yup. 100%. On both accounts. Was it important that I apologised? Yes. Yes, it was.
Watching this season of 13 Reasons, a lot of the characters did things that were honestly out of character, and really hurtful. I don't recall seeing most of them apologising however for their actions. Linking back up to the previous headings, we never know what our words can do to shape someone else's life, and for the (not always) simple act of owning up to the times where you haven't been a good person, and genuinely apologising, it again can potentially mean the difference between life and death for someone.
Life is unpredictable, so enjoy the small moments
This is actually something that I have been doing over the past few months anyway with everything that has happened with Covid-19. Life goes by so quickly, and unfortunately, not everyone makes it to a stage where they thought that they would. Things happen, change can come fast and swift, and not for the best. Taking a moment to really step back, divert into the slow lane, and appreciate what you have, as it is now, is something that many of us I don't believe do.
In the grand scheme of things, regardless of where we are in life - we have choices that we can make daily that shape our future. If this means that for 10 minutes a day you do a bit of yoga, or set aside some time to read your favourite book - or even go have a bubble bath to relax, these are just awesome little reset pieces.
Looking at the series, and the stress that the students of Liberty High have gone through, I wonder how many of them would have had the opportunity to do so. It always made me happy to see Tyler in the darkroom developing his photos, or when Clay would talk about his robots or Tony with his car.
We need to find things that make us happy, and when you've gone through trauma, it's hard to do that. If you've ever lost yourself completely - you'll know that those small little things are the building blocks of getting to rebuild yourself. If you've never been through a major trauma, then these things are still so important to our everyday lives and identities.
When was the last time you took time out for yourself? And just for yourself, without judgement of outside sources? What makes you, you?
Wrap up time
This ended up being a lot longer than I expected! For the controversy that 13 Reasons Why has created over the past few years, I believe that it also has brought forward a lot of topics that were previously taboo. It's opened a dialogue for mental health issues, social issues, injustice - and there's many, many more. I've thoroughly enjoyed the majority of this series. I'll be continuing the conversation of mental health on the blog over the next few months as I think continuing the conversation, and removing the stigma is something that we still need to work upon.
What about you? Have you watched the last season yet? Or has something here resonated with you? Let me know in the comments below.
As always - if you're struggling and need resources, you can find help here.