The Many Important Life-Lessons "Degrassi" Taught Me

The Many Important Life-Lessons "Degrassi" Taught Me

From racism and rape, to transgender and teen pregnancy.

"Degrassi: The Next Generation" was one of the most vital parts of my childhood. As a fifth grader and beyond, watching it on Noggin, The N or the Teen Nick was both entertaining and informative. Throughout many, many seasons of Degrassi, most other people of my generation and I were taught life-lessons that parents, schools, and society were too afraid to, or didn't even know how to teach us.

That being gay isn't wrong, and that it's important to treat those who are with the utmost respect.

That suicide and depression are severe issues that plague our society.

What it means to be transgender, and how to safely integrate those who are into high schools so they can have the most normal experience possible.

That bullying should not be taken lightly.

The importance of making sure you are ready to have sex, and to use protection when you are ready, because you never know exactly where that person has been.

That some relationships can be unsafe and toxic, and that you need to get as far away from them as possible.

The ins and out of what drugs are present in our society, and how to address those who have problems with them.

What rape is, and how crucial it is to understand that it is never the victim's fault.

That mental illness is real, and some of the symptoms to recognize them.

That self-harm is something many struggle with.

What it means to have an abortion, raise a child, or give your child up for adoption if teen pregnancy occurs. And how to understand that it is a woman's choice — whether you agree with it or not.

That body insecurity is normal, but recognizing when it manifests into something more serious.

How to deal with death and tragedy.

That racy pictures, such as sexting, never stay private.

That it is okay to not have your entire future mapped out.

How sexual curiosity is normal.

That severe violence can happen to anyone at any time, so you need to be prepared.

That questioning your sexuality is okay, and you shouldn't feel the need to define yourself at such a young age if you don't what to.

That racism is still a very real problem today.

How you shouldn't be embarrassed by your period, and that no one should make you feel embarrassed by your period.

That you should be with a significant other who makes you better.

That it is not a teenager's responsibility to raise his or her parents.

How to know when you need to ask for help.

How to own up to your mistakes and have the courage to learn from them.

That even teenagers can be diagnosed with cancer, so keep an eye out for anything unusual going on with your body.

That some kids come from broken homes where they are abused, and reporting it may save their life.

Real friends will be with you every single step of the way, and if they aren't, that leaves space for someone who will.

Overall, I think we, as a generation, owe a huge "thank you" to the writers of "Degrassi: The Next Generation." Though it was, at times, too mature and heavy, it addressed very real societal topics that needed to be talked about among our generation when no one else would. I am a much better person for having grown up watching "Degrassi," as most of my willingness to accept others, understanding of differences, and knowledge of taboo issues is from the education it provided for me. Thank you, "Degrassi" for all of the lessons you taught me that I continue to refer to today.

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved

To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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When Words Are Not Enough

Sometimes you just need to be.


Life is a roller-coaster of ups and downs. We all desire easy fruitful lives where no one ever dies and no one ever leaves. Instead, we suffer through hardships and great trials that test our faith. These conflicts often leave us worn down and feeling helpless. This is the time when words become a languid breeze, going through one ear and out the other. This is what you should do when words are not enough to satiate the pain you hold in trembling hands.

Focus all your energy into just being. No one expects you to get over the tragedy that occurred in your life, so don't force yourself. Just eat, breathe, and sleep until you feel up to doing normal tasks. Whatever circumstance that has stolen your breath and turned your life upside down won't go a week in a couple of days or a week. Wounds like yours don't go away instantly; instead, they take time and nurturing. Sometimes it's best to keep a sore covered but in some circumstances, know that seeing someone is okay.

These tragedies you face are real, and they try to break down the very substances that make you who you are. Counselors and therapists can help you make sense of the burden you carry. There are many reasons why you might be hesitant to see a therapist, but if the burden you carry becomes too much, a therapist can help you lighten that load.

Know that what you are going through is real and it is tough, but you will make it out on top. You are a survivor and a success story. Every single bad thing that has tried to tear you down hasn't succeeded, and this will be no different. Trust me, your story is not over.

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