Browsing through random Netflix show, I came across a real gem – Stranger Things and binged watched all 3 seasons in about 4 days. I honestly did not know how big this show was until after I have watched it and did some Wiki research as I always do after a show. I just couldn’t get enough of it and this post is something of a homage to the incredible series. Enjoy!

⚠️ Spoilers ahead! This is written with lots of reference to all 3 seasons of Stranger Things. If you have not watched it, do not proceed. Come back in 4 days.

1. Quirky is Good!

Will likes Dungeon & Dragons, Steve doesn’t like haircuts, Mr. Clarke geeks out over a radio that could reach Australia and Dustin thinks slimy creatures impresses girls. One of the things I love the most about Stranger Things is their characters and the character arc throughout the show (heavy characterisation is intentional). It really lets you get to know these individuals and how the react in different circumstances. It’s weird, it’s goofy, it’s misfitting and it’s also one of the reasons why people love the show so much.

Could you imagine if the characters all tried to wear the same trendy clothes, take the same profile picture, have the same hobbies and say only politically correct sentences? It probably wouldn’t last past the pilot episode. So, the question is – why do tend to do that in real life? Why not let some of our own quirkiness show? 🤪

2. Friends Don’t Lie (or Spy)

Friendship is one of the major recurring theme in Stranger Things and the first rule of their friendship is ‘Friends don’t lie’. There were so many great moments on this theme, but I think one of the greatest example of why we should consider adopting this rule is when Mike lied to Eleven about his Nanny being sick. Which lead to their relationship breaking down and Eleven to eventually ‘dump his ass’.

I think a central component of any good friendship or relationship is trust and without it, we tend to suspect one another, read between the lines (and find something that isn’t there) and yes, even spy on one another. I’m a big believer of ‘honesty is the best policy’ and if we don’t trust someone, try talking to them first. There may be some underlying causes that affect their behaviour – just like how Mike was being threatened by Hopper.

3. Promise: Something that You Can’t Break. Ever.

Another prominent quote from the show is about promise. I don’t necessarily agree that you can’t break your promises ever, primarily because reality change & circumstances change. However, there is a difference between changing because it’s necessary and changing because it’s convenient or because you didn’t prioritise your promises.

A great example from the show is in Season 2 when Hopper got home late even after the promised Eleven to be back by a certain time. You could not only see how disappointed and angry Eleven was with Hopper, but also how painful it was for Hopper to know that he hurt Eleven by breaking his promise. Someone once told me a keeping a promise to others is reliability and keeping a promise to yourself is integrity.

4. Trust Your Gut

Remember those scenes in Season 1 when Joyce believed that her son was still alive and the whole world thought she was crazy? It was really heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching for me to see her desperately trying to do what she knows to be true and yet being doubted every step of the way. Something that tends to happen when we have new ideas and big dreams!

I think the most powerful moment for Joyce is when she was about to leave her house, terrified of the monster. But upon seeing lights flickering (which she believed to be her son) still in the house, she decided to face her fears and go back. This scene is giving me goosebumps even as I’m writing this now.

Of course, people eventually believed her story once they found more evidence. But what would have happened if she stopped? If she just took the logical route that Will is dead because they have found his ‘body’? Even in a non-Stranger Things world, sometimes, just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Trust your intuition if you feel something is right and give others the benefit of the doubt.

Another note-worthy scene of this point would be when Nancy felt something was off with the rats in Season 3 and decided to investigate further with Jonathan – eventually discovering the truth about Mrs. Driscoll.

5. With Great Power, Comes A Choice

Who could ever forget the time when Eleven got into an emo-punk rock band and found her ‘sister’, Kali. Another child experiment, code-numbered 008, Kali also posses supernatural powers. But instead of using that power to save friends from falling off a cliff or destroying Demogorgons in a school, Kali is part of a street criminal gang who robs, steals and kills in the name of punishing the ‘bad guys’.

I’m not saying that her actions were right or wrong. I’m just saying that we all have a choice of what we do with our powers – supernatural or not. We all have a choice to be nasty or to be kind. We have a choice to be rude or respectful. We have a choice on how we affect others with every Facebook post, Instagram comment & WordPress article. Use it wisely.

6. A Little Bit of Kindness Goes a Long Way

One of the most heart-warming scenes for me was during the final episode of Season 2. No, not when Mike kissed El or Max kissed Lucas – it was when Nancy saw Dustin standing alone in a crowd full of couples looking all dejected. Instead of how the other girls rejected a ‘loser’ like him, Nancy walked right up to Dustin and ask him for a dance. Not only that, she reassures him that he is her favourite of all her brother’s friends which immediately lifted his self-esteem. Cue Sound Effect: Awwwwww

As human beings, there’s a tendency to only associate with people who we deem are ‘cool’ or are ‘winners’. We tend to distance ourselves from the so called ‘losers’ & ‘loners’. But let me remind you that this whole series is about a bunch of misfit, geeky kids and how Nancy’s little act of kindness saved the day; Dustin’s self esteem grew from the dance which led to him to having a real girlfriend named Suzie, who eventually gave Hopper & Joyce the Planck constant to deactivate the Russians’ machine.

7. Everyone’s Fighting Their Own Battle

Billy, the new bad boy in town is without a doubt one of the most hated characters since Season 2. He bullies (King) Steve in the basketball court, in the shower and basically every chance he gets. He verbally abuses his step-sister, Max whenever she’s late or is seen with Lucas. He’s violent and even tries to physically attack the kids.

There really wasn’t anything likeable about his character until Eleven tries to psychically locate Billy and discovers his troubled childhood. He, like most of us started as a happy kid – surfing in the California beach with his Mom. Until his Dad starts yelling at him for not being good enough and striking his Mom, eventually leading his Mother to leave Billy and his Father. Verbally abused and abandoned, Billy grew up traumatised and therefore puts up this ‘tough guy’ and ‘bad boy’ image.

But deep down inside, he just yearns for happiness like all of us. There was a subtle but great scene that captured this – when Billy’s Father yells and threatens him, he stood up for himself only to be pushed back down. He eventually shed a little tear after that incident – showing he wasn’t as tough as he portrays himself to be.

Everyone we see on the street and everyone we know have their own past history and baggage. Someone once told me that no one survives childhood unscathed. So, just try to remember that when someone acts all tough, angry and bullying. They may just be hiding all that hurt deep down inside and longing for someone to care and love them. Psst, that person could be yourself too.

Partly inspired by this article.

8. Appreciate People While You Can

No one is guaranteed a tomorrow – death can come knocking at any moment. There’s no better reminder than right now – where a global pandemic is taking lives irregardless of nationality, race, religion or wealth. Or, whenever you’re fighting a big-ass shadow monster. Many times, we take people we love for granted. We don’t say what we really mean until it’s too late. Just like Hopper’s heart-to-heart letter to Eleven.

Feelings. Jesus. The truth is, for so long I’d forgotten what those even were. I’ve been stuck in one place. In a cave, you might say. A deep, dark cave. And then I left some Eggos out in the woods and you came into my life. For the first time in a long time, I started to feel things again. I started to feel happy. But lately, I guess I’ve been feeling distant from you. Like you’re pulling away from me or something. I miss playing board games every night, making triple-Decker Eggo extravaganzas at sunrise, watching Westerns together before we doze off.

So, if you’re missing someone after reading this, call them. If you were rude to your Mother for asking you to take out the trash, apologise. If someone wronged you in the past, forgive them. If you have feelings for someone but never had the courage to confess, let them know. If you can’t say it face to face, maybe you can take a cue from Hopper and write a letter (and actually send it).

9. Loss Happens; Take Time to Grief

Still on the topic of death, there are times when we lose someone we love. Even if it wasn’t due to death, maybe they moved away or it’s just not the way it used to be – we inherently will feel a sense of loss. Like a part of us died with that person or incident and it hurts. We don’t want to move on, but things can’t stay the same either. Stranger Things explored this theme quite a fair bit:

  • When Will goes missing, Joyce & Jonathan were devastated in their own ways
  • When Nancy realised her last moment with her best friend was her asking Barb to ‘just go home’
  • When Mike thought El was dead, but still tried contacting her for 353 days
  • When Mike, Lucas & Dustin got girlfriends and Will just wanted to play Dungeon & Dragons like the old days
  • When Bob dies, just after Joyce & Bob started to have a good relationship
  • When Steve finally realised that Nancy is in love with Jonathan and not him
  • When Hopper seemingly died and leave El a heart to heart letter

Loss makes you vulnerable and everyone griefs differently. If you recently experienced a sense of loss, don’t feel like you are weak for having these feelings or that you have to move on quickly. Take your time to grief – your way. If you need to talk to someone, call the Befrienders. If you need to shout at the sea or into your pillow, go ahead. If you need to express it out, you can try writing, drawing or painting. The only thing you probably shouldn’t do it to suppress it like it never happened.

10. Redemption is Possible

Going back to my good friend, Billy. You know what was the one thing that made people go ‘Oh, he’s not so bad after all’? It wasn’t enough that we understood his traumatic childhood, but it was the moment when he decided to sacrifice himself to protect El from the Mind Flayer.

We’ve all made mistakes in the past, done things we’re not proud of. While it helps when we understand why we did what we did, sometimes it’s just not enough. Sometimes, the best apology is a change in behaviour. If we have really learnt our lesson, do things differently. It can be hard, especially if you’re going against 20-30 years of conditioning, but try your best. Don’t give up. Also as importantly, if you find that you have fallen into the trap of feeling self-guilt and self-pity (like we all do), just get back up. Don’t stay in the trap hole. It’s possible to do better and be better.

11. Be a Child, Again

One of the greatest impact the show has had on myself is a reminder to be a child again. No, not you, Benjamin Button! But rather developing childlike characteristics like having a sense of curiosity, imagination, innocence, carefreeness, lightheartedness, awe & wonder. Mike, Will, Lucas, Dustin, Eleven & Max has demonstrated these qualities time and time again.

The way they play Dungeons & Dragons, the way they cycle to each other’s houses, the way they geek out over the ham radio, the way they speak their mind openly and the way they care for one another genuinely. It’s not just the characters, the real actors also seem to portray these traits. It makes you feel like you wanna be part of this gang.

As a recovering serious-at-life person, I used to see life as a race to win and everything I do needs to accomplish some grand goal. Rest, play time, entertainment and stand-up comedies are for ‘unambitious losers’. Needless to say, I have seen the errors in this way of thinking. It creates so much unnecessary pressure and you actually miss out on living life itself.

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

Robert Brault

So, if you related to that, then see if you can reconnect with your inner child. The one that wants to play, laugh at silly jokes, admire the sunlight through the leaves and watch the rain fall to the streets. Go ahead. Allow yourself. Give yourself permission to feel what brings your heart joy and just indulge in it.

And that’s it – eleven lessons I took away from Stranger Things. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. If you made it all the way down here, leave a comment below – What’s your most memorable moment from Stranger Things? 😊

Note: All pictures taken from Google Search. If it’s against your copyright policies, please don’t sue me – I can’t pay, but I can take it down. Cheers!

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