life lessons from ABC Family

I’ve been watching a lot of Boy Meets World lately. Like, every day. It’s on ABC Family in the mornings, and when I discovered this I set up a series recording on my DVR. Now I get two episodes after work every day, all of which I’ve seen before but still feel the need to watch.

And now I’m having dreams about Shawn Hunter, which is… interesting. I love me some Rider Strong and his pouty little face. I’m also getting a kick out of this post over at Are You There Youth? It’s Me, Nikki about the secret gay love between Cory and Shawn. I read this when it was first posted and found it amusing, but now that I’m watching the show I notice it everywhere; I feel like there’s something in almost every episode that points to Cory and Shawn being secret lovers. Of course, like a lot of the commenters wrote on that post, probably the show was just poking fun at the idea that close male friends are “obviously” gay. Either way, it entertains me. And did you know the girl Cory kissed at the ski lodge was Linda Cardellini from Freaks and Geeks? Because I had no idea until recently.

However, the real point of this? Is that one of my favorite episodes was on the other day. Two episodes of this show have stuck in my mind all these years, both of them dealing with Cory and his quest to be more than average: “Better Than The Average Cory” and “The Provider.” In The Provider, Cory gets some sort of work-at-home telemarketing gig and is a spectacular failure, but Topanga manages to get a great job and outshine him, leaving Cory to wonder why he isn’t as successful. In BTTAC, which was on the other day, Cory comes into contact with a young girl who is some sort of artistic prodigy and becomes upset that he doesn’t excel in anything. While I don’t think about these things as much these days, I’ve always related so much to Cory being “average.”

Confronting his father, Cory asks, “Why didn’t you ever push me to be anything great? You didn’t help me find out what I was good at. And I do not want to be one of these people, Dad, who has no first-place trophies and no special talents. I mean, why didn’t you want me to be better?” It’s like the character was modeled after me. I wondered for years (still do, sometimes) why my parents didn’t push me into anything – why no one cared about making me number one at anything. As Cory goes on to say, “I’m never going to be great at anything because I was raised to be average.”

What always really hit home for me was a conversation between Cory and his friend Angela. Trying to mollify him, she says something like “of course you’re good at things!” When he asks for examples (something I’ve done many, many times in my life to similarly well-meaning friends), she can’t come up with a single thing. And his response is, “You all know exactly what you’re good at, right? I have no idea what I am. I’m like.. standard issue. I come in a plain wrapper.” Ah, spoken like a true sad little average kid.

Of course, because it’s Boy Meets World, by the end of the episode he realizes that being average isn’t so bad – life is what you make it of and the relationships you have with family and friends, so it’s okay because he’s doing pretty great. At the risk of sounding really cliched and sappy, I’ve come to the same realization. Every so often I get a twinge of wishful thinking, but while I’ve never had first-place trophies, awards, or talents, I think I’ve done pretty okay so far.

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