Teen Suicide, Glee and Choices

While Glee has definitely taken a turn for the worst plot-wise since the back 13 episodes of the first season (the first nine episodes are still the best, in terms of wit, plot, dialogue, and pacing) and continues to travel further and further up that road, there are some good moments in there.

Last night’s episode tackled teen suicide. This is a topic quite close to me, because I had a friend who did it when I was in college. In fact, he cut class and did it while we were having that class. It’s the kind of thing that haunts you immediately after and stays with you. It’s been almost five years since.

I want to talk about this particular scene that was on Glee last night:




First of all, I don’t think you can compare problems. I grew up belittling my own problems and my own feelings because I had the mindset that someone was always worse off than I was. Some people barely had anything to eat in a day, some people didn’t have parents, some people are dying. My problems didn’t seem significant enough to whine about in comparison to the Real Problems out there in the world. But twenty years on, I realized that this was wrong. Yes, I may have food and a roof over my head. Yes, in comparison to the world, my problems may be a trifle. But that doesn’t mean I have to suppress myself and my feelings because someone was worse off. I was just hindering myself emotionally. My problems matter. They matter to me, and what I do reflects in the world. They matter.

And this is something I learned in college, in the wake of my friend’s suicide, in the aftermath of history lessons from a great teacher who not only taught us about planes, trenches and the Jews, but about life:

There’s always going to be someone with a problem worse than yours, but that doesn’t mean your problems don’t matter.

Your problems may be small but don’t ever think they don’t matter. They matter. You matter.

Secondly, there is a big difference between Quinn and Kurt’s problems. The difference between them is: Quinn’s problems were always a result of her choices. Kurt’s wasn’t.

Quinn had unprotected sex with a guy who wasn’t her boyfriend. She could have said no or used a condom, but she chose not to.

Quinn lied to her boyfriend and made him believe he was the father. She could have told the truth. But she chose to lie, and he left her when he found out.

(And much later, Quinn will choose to pick-up the phone while driving and concentrate on a text message even when she knows there’s an intersection. Lima is a small town, and she doesn’t have GPS in her car, so she knows where she’s going.)

And Kurt could never have chosen who he is attracted to, who he is.

There are a lot of times when we want to change ourselves. Big things, little things, to make us better, more likeable people. But no matter how hard we try, our first instinct is always the one we are born with–whether it’s a short temper or being attracted to the opposite sex–you can’t change that. You can try and sometimes you can even control yourself, say you can lengthen your patience–but your default? The attitude that comes out on a bad day or when you haven’t had enough sleep or coffee, that short burst of temper or annoyance? How you react under pressure and stress? That’s you. And a lot of the time, you can’t change that.

The ones you can change however–you have choices. The choices you make are important. They can change you, change your lives, change the lives of everyone around you, change some unsuspecting person’s life.

So in a nutshell: Quinn was judged and ostracized because of her actions, because of something she did. She wasn’t judged because of something innately her, something she couldn’t change no matter what, in the way that Kurt or Karofsky was/is.

That is the difference. And for me, while problems are incomparable, it’s a big leap from the problem of not being liked solely because of who you are and not because of something you did. The first hurts much more because you never did anything but try to be yourself. Things you did can be forgotten after a while or could have been avoided altogether if you made the wise choice. Things you are stays with you forever.

Quinn moves to Yale. Nobody will know she was a teen pregnancy statistic unless she tells them. Kurt moves to New York. He’s still gay.

Although Quinn may be the Queen of Bad Choices, I also admire her character. She, by far, is the strongest girl on that show. She has made all the wrong choices and managed to make the right ones afterwards. She’s an example of how even beautiful, smart, rich girls can lack common sense, can make the wrong decisions, can have bad problems. And rise above them.  Because at the end of the day, that’s the important thing—keeping your head up and rising above your problems. Taking steps to solve them if those problems were because of the choices you made.

Your problems are important. What you do is important. Your choices are important. And you? You matter. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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2 thoughts on “Teen Suicide, Glee and Choices

  1. “First of all, I don’t think you can compare problems. I grew up belittling my own problems and my own feelings because I had the mindset that someone was always worse off than I was. Some people barely had anything to eat in a day, some people didn’t have parents, some people are dying. My problems didn’t seem significant enough to whine about in comparison to the Real Problems out there in the world. But twenty years on, I realized that this was wrong. Yes, I may have food and a roof over my head. Yes, in comparison to the world, my problems may be a trifle. But that doesn’t mean I have to suppress myself and my feelings because someone was worse off. I was just hindering myself emotionally. My problems matter. They matter to me, and what I do reflects in the world. They matter.”

    I agree. Kung may isang bagay din akong natutunan sa college (at habang nagtuturo ako), hindi rin dapat natin idismiss na petty ang problema ng isang tao, or kahit problema natin. Guilty ako dati sa ganun, pero nung may nagsabi rin sa akin na medyo subjective nga ang pagsasabing petty ang problema ng isang tao, dun nabago yung pag-iisip ko. Hehe.

    Great blog, Jerica! 🙂

    Like

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