From its debut in 1989 to its final special in 1994, Bayside High School’s finest class shared their ups and downs with us, the after school crowd, who just couldn’t wait to grow up and be “that old.” In each episode Zack, Kelly, Jessie, Slater, Lisa, and Screech didn’t just learn important lessons about how to navigate high school hallways, teenage relationships, and gym class – they also learned how to navigate the world around them.
If you stop and look back at the series as a whole, you begin to realize there are valid, neon-colored keys to finding true happiness hidden beneath the sugary, peppy surface. But, just like that homework that seemed impossible back then (hence, why you used your dog as a scapegoat), these lessons are a little easier to spot as an adult. Let’s explore:
1. Take the Time to Stop
Zach Morris had it right with his infamous (and unexplained) ability to break the fourth wall and call a freeze frame on the world around him. When life seems to be spinning out of control, don’t be afraid to call a “time out.” Take a step back, breathe, assess the situation, and resume when you’ve found your footing. In a chaotic world where we’re propelled to go, go, go, sometimes the smartest thing to do is stop for a minute and think about where you’re actually heading. Remember, it’s a journey – not a race.
2. Everyone Has a Youth
Just as the kids were baffled with the notion that Mr. Belding was once a hip radio DJ (or when we realized Miss Bliss was played by Pollyanna herself, Hayley Mills) it’s easy for us to forget that every older person we come in contact with was once our age. It’s easy to take for granted the many similarities we share in the human experience (not just age) – and reminding ourselves of this can often help us find more compassion in our day to day.
3. Material Things Become Obsolete
From the big hair and acid-washed jeans to Zack’s brick phone, looking back at the fashion and trends at Bayside High reminds us how quickly material things become obsolete. The must-have item of the moment are swiftly replaced with yet another. And in stepping back and seeing the short shelf life of fads, we can reassess how things in our present may not be as "necessary" as we might first think.
4. It's the Company You Keep
When we look back on our lives, all our life events, all our accomplishments, big or small, aren't nearly as important as the individuals we were able to share them with. It's not about impressing a record executive, but the joys of singing with your best gal pals. It's not about missing your prom, but rather spending that time with your special some one. If the kids of Bayside showed us anything, the truly lucky are those who are able to find their tribe.
5. Don’t Sweat the Small (or Big) Stuff
It's actually right there in the theme song. Running late, pop quizzes, dog-eaten homework – at the time they may seem like life's biggest issues, but somehow they're solved by something as little as a bell. And just as we mature to see that those problems were actually quite small, perhaps the larger problems we face now will seem just as minute in the grand scheme of things. So don't sweat the small or the big stuff. Things have a way of working themselves out. Just remember, "It's alright – 'cause I'm Saved by the Bell."
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