Two years ago, when I was going through the toughest time of my life (my mum was really ill, and ultimately passed away from cancer), I turned to things that would cheer me up a little, things that would make me laugh and forget for just a little while the worry I felt for my mum and family. One of those things was this little Netflix show called "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." The premise of the show is about a young woman who is finally released from a bunker where she was a part of a doomsday cult, and her reintegration into everyday life. It sounds a bit dire and dramatic doesn't it? But don't get me wrong when I say it is one of the wittiest, feel good tv shows out there. For me, Kimmy gave me 20 minute episodes of unabashed optimism and smiles, as well as little nuggets of pure life truths - that show really helped me "take each 10 seconds at a time" (a little piece of Kimmy Schmidt golden advice right there).
I have recently started watching "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" again - starting at season 1 and continuing onto the 2nd season that I haven't seen yet - but the irrepressible lust for life that Kimmy has has inspired me all over again. There are quite a few lessons that Kimmy has to teach us, and here are a few of my favourite ones:
1. Take each 10 seconds at a time - we all go through really tough and tragic times, it's an inevitable part of being human. Whether is is the death of a loved one, an accident that changes your life, being kept in a bunker cult for 15 years (just like Kimmy was), or you fail your A-levels, get fired from your job, or have a massive fight with your best friend, everything is endurable as long as you stay present and "take each 10 seconds at a time." The message here is to stay present, acknowledge how you feel, sit with it, and recognise that how you feel, right now, isn't forever. In fact, as you live each moment your feelings will change, and even the toughest of moments will pass.
2. You do not have to be a victim - We really do have choices people! We can choose to embrace the tragedies and difficulties that we have faced and be defined by them, or we can choose to acknowledge our hardships and learn from them, growing into more empathetic, giving, and joyful people. The choice is yours. Kimmy chooses not to be defined by her past - of course it impacts on her, and she probably does need some counselling (because who wouldn't need counselling after being part of a doomsday cult for 15 years), but ultimately she refuses to let her past stop her from living life to the full.
3. "Be you. Be what you want. And then become unbreakable" - We live in a world that tries to put us in boxes, defining us based on our gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability/disability etc. Ultimately we can break through these bonds and be our own person! Kimmy has always been true to herself, even when trapped in the bunker. She is unashamedly herself with everyone, and when she does have moments where she tries to be someone she is not, it ends in catastrophe, and she bounces back to her usual, happy, joyful, crazy, fun, self. Her true sense of self and self belief is "unbreakable" and this is perhaps her biggest lesson for us all. So look at who you really are and embrace that! You are perfect just the way you are, right here, right now.
4. [In a French accent] "Beyonce" - Or rather, fake it till you make it! Kimmy, for obvious reasons, has not kept up with the latest .... well, everything, due to being locked in a bunker for 15 years, so she starts to "fake it" to "make it." Or rather, she throws herself into the world and decides that she isn't going to let her limited knowledge about stuff stop her from pursuing her dreams. In striding forward into her job, friendships, and experiences, she goes without fear, preferring to learn on the way, and isn't that really what life is about? Having a curiosity and desire to learn and discover new things everyday ..... so make like Kimmy and [In a French accent] "Beyonce."
5. "We're not garbage. We're human beings" - Accepting people for who they are, warts and all, is a HUGE part of the show. The variety of characters is a more realistic representation of society and the type of people that we come face to face with everyday. Kimmy takes people at face value, she has a smile for everyone, and though she confuses a lot of pop references and social niceties, she doesn't judge people - even if they are mean and nasty to her (like Jacqueline Voorhees and her steps daughter Xanthippe Voorhees), she recognises that these people have some deep-seated issues that cause them to be judgemental and confrontational, and so she shows them compassion and friendship when many others wouldn't. So before you judge someone and cut them from your life, really consider where they are coming from and recognise that they might be having a tough time too.
So my challenge to you today is to take a Kimmy lesson of your choice and really embrace it today, be mindful of it, and try to enact it in your actions, e.g., "Be you." Do at least three things today that are authentically you, if you want to sing out loud in the shops sing out loud, if you want to pat every dog you see on your walk in nature do so (with the owners permission of course), and if you want to wear a bright pink jacket over a bright red top because they are your two favourite colours, do so - who cares if people think your weird and wacky, you're not there to please them, your here to embrace and be you!
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright