1. Stay true to who you are
Phoebe is a great example of this. She’s been through a lot, and basically raised herself after her mother commits suicide and her stepfather goes to prison. Despite her struggles, she stays true to her beliefs (even if it is unclear what exactly she does believe in) and is strong in character. She’s quirky and fun and loyal friend. I learned that our past only remains dark if we let it. Phoebe didn’t just look for a better life, she created a better life for herself. She brings light and color to the Friends group, and it wouldn’t be the same without her singing “Smelly Cats.”
2. Accept and love your body
I think we can all relate to Joey’s love for food. Throughout the ten seasons of Friends, Joey constantly discusses his love for pizza (“The Joey Special” anyone?) and his love for sandwiches. The writers dedicated an entire episode dedicated to how Joey doesn’t share food. Joey shows audiences that loving food is normal and never lets that make him feel bad about his body. Joey always holds an admirable high confidence and doesn’t let other people define him.
3. Intelligence is sexy
Ross gets a lot of grief for his love for paleontology. Sometimes the friends even ignore anything slightly academic that he says. Still, he makes his love for his career known and doesn’t let their opinions of him change that. Ross shows us that academia comes with satisfaction and respect from his community. And anyway, the world needs dinosaur and science lovers like Ross.
4. High school doesn’t define you
Pre-nose job Rachel and overweight Monica blossom into adults after high school. Rachel shows us that sometimes it takes the struggle of adulting to gain compassion and humility. Monica shows us that confidence doesn’t come from the way you look. She openly discusses her struggles as a child to overcome her overeating. And as a chef, she is able to live a more healthy life. Even with the challenges they face as adults, it is admirable to see how Monica and Rachel have grown, and continue to grow throughout the show.
5. Exes don’t define you, either
If you ever hear, “OH MY GOD,” you know it’s Janice, Chandler’s infamous ex-girlfriend. She appears sporadically throughout the show, making appearances at the worst times for the characters, like when Rachel is giving birth, Janice happens to also be giving birth. Janice is a prime example of why you shouldn’t judge someone based on who they dated in the past. Chandler comes a long way from dating Janice to eventually ending up with Monica. As a couple and as individuals, they grow together, learn from one another and respect each other.
6. Perseverance pays off
From doing the play Freud! to tacky commercials, to playing Dr. Drake Ramoray on Days of Our Lives, Joey persevered in his acting career even when the odds didn’t seem in his favor. Although at times he became discouraged, he never gave up on his dreams, even when his dream role as Dr. Drake Ramoray ends. Even after that, Joey continues fighting for his dream career and even ends up back on Days of Our Lives as Dr. Drake Ramoray’s twin brother, Stricker.
7. Follow your heart
Rachel isn’t given enough credit for the courage she takes in not marrying Barry—someone who could have given her stability and comfort—to completely starting over in Manhattan. She goes from being completely taken care of by her parents and Barry, to becoming fully independent. Immediately she gets a job as a waitress at the infamous coffee house, and with a little help from her friends, she learns about adulting and living a life independent of her wealthy family and friends. Not marrying Barry opened the door to her meeting her best friends, eventually getting her dream career in the fashion industry and becoming a mother.
8. Quit your job if you hate it
It’s a running joke that none of the friends know what Chandler does. That’s also how Rachel and Monica lost their apartment to Joey and Chandler. After Chandler takes a job in Tulsa (accidentally), he realizes just how much he dislikes his job. So he quits and Monica helps him find what he’s truly passionate about. It takes a lot of courage to quit a job with a company you’ve been with for so long and start over. Chandler shows us that money can only solve so much. Staying in a job that doesn’t bring you happiness isn’t worth it at the end of the day.
9. You’re never alone
Often times I feel as though I have to go through things alone (which I’m sure we all have felt at some point) as to not bother anyone and give our burden to them. But the Friends group always tackles problems together. They’re all in it together. When Rachel and Phoebe go wedding dress shopping with Monica, they help her fight for the dress Monica wants. No matter how small (or crazy) the problem, they always have each other’s backs. It is a good reminder that we shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask for help, and that, most often, the people we love and love us want to help us.
10. Don’t be afraid to grow up
Everyone grows up. It sound scary but Friends teaches us it isn’t something to fear. Monica works as a caterer and a waitress before landing her dream job as head chef at Allesandro’s. Rachel works at Central Perk as a waitress for years before getting a job with Bloomingdales and then Ralph Lauren. Chandler starts off as a boy so incredibly afraid of commitment, and ends up marrying the love of his life, who happens to also be his best friend. Joey climbs the ranks of his acting career and ends up on Days of Our Lives. After many short-lived relationships, Phoebe ends up happily married. After three divorces, a forced sabbatical, and two kids later, Ross finally gets his dream girl—Rachel Green. All six friends show us that success takes time, but that doesn’t stop us from finding happiness and friendship.