When I was a sophomore in high school, my darling mother introduced me to a tragically short-lived TV show she used to watch religiously when I was a toddler and my dad was busy working nights. She remembered it meaning a lot to her and, upon realizing it was available through Netflix (pre-streaming days; pretty old school, I know), she hoped it would mean a lot to me too. That show was Freaks and Geeks and it would quickly go on to change my life in more ways than one. (Why do moms always have to be right?!)
I was fourteen when we started going through its one and only precious season. At the time, I was lonely, confused, excited, yet terrified for the future (scratch that, I still am) and I immediately saw so much of myself in the protagonist, Lindsay Weir. We both were diligent, hard-working students, were close with our families, and had lived extremely sheltered, non-rebellious lives thus far. We hated high school and struggled to pinpoint exactly where it was that we “belonged.” Watching Lindsay navigate the treacherous waters of McKinley High assured me that I too could get through whatever suburban problem was stressing me out the most on any given day.
One of the first reasons I was so inspired by Lindsay was seeing her commitment to standing up for others. Be it her younger brother Sam, her classmate with special needs, Eli, or any one of her wonderful, nuanced friends, she never let a bully win. She was honest, she embraced confrontation when necessary, and she wasn’t afraid of doing or saying what she thought was right, no matter how difficult or potentially embarrassing it may have been in the moment. It didn’t matter that she had a lot on her own plate and was also busy trying to figure out who she was. At the end of the day, I truly believe that she cared most about making others feel good about themselves, and that was an important thing for me to learn and become aware of.
Lindsay also helped me to rest easier by showing me it was so normal and so okay to not know what the fuck I thought or hoped or wanted or needed because life is extremely complicated! I would even go so far as to say that high school is a special type of hell in that regard. Her exploration of conflicting desires and unfinished journey to self-discovery made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It’s more than a little cliche, but I really mean it when I say that after a day of sifting through the typical bullshit of cliques and mean teachers and frenemies, it was incredibly comforting knowing that once I got home, I could pop in a DVD and instantly feel understood by and identify with Lindsay and Nick and Daniel and Kim and Ken and Bill and Neal and Sam (it was physically impossible for me to leave any of their names out). It’s something that saved me on more than one occasion.
It should come as no surprise that I think Lindsay Weir is one of the all-time great fictional heroines of our generation. She is one of the most human and most realistic characters I have ever borne witness to. She taught me to be kind, to try new things, to honor friendships old and new, to be brave, and to be okay with not having figured out who I was yet. Every time I put on my near-replica army jacket, I think of her and resolve to be someone that would make her proud. Sure, maybe this train of thought adds to the already-ridiculous amount of wistful glances I take and dramatic pauses I make (genuinely unintentional rhyme), but it also makes me a whole lot happier and more in tune with those around me – which, in my book, is a-okay.