The Right Decision

The show Girls accidently changed my life. It took multiple viewings of Hannah Horvath leaving for Iowa and quickly leaving Iowa to convince me to apply to the Stonecoast graduate program in creative writing. I began to feel my blood boiling, pressuring me to turn off the television and turn someone else’s fiction into my own reality. It’s terrifying when you realize you’re the only one who can direct your life.

There’s nothing worthwhile about being jealous of a fictional television character because you know they’re following a script. What is happening to them has been predetermined and tends to work itself out in thirty minutes or less. But this particular storyline was compelling because it was seeping into my life. I was watching Hannah go through something I couldn’t bring myself to do.

It wasn’t surprising to me that she decided to leave the program. After all, Girls is a New York focused show and Hannah’s identity is rooted in Brooklyn. I felt personally affected because I choose to see her outside of her character. I saw her as a version of myself who gave up too quickly. Despite my personal frustrations, I had to realize this was not my story.

There is a scene in the season four episode entitled “Cubbies” where Hannah is having dinner with her father. She doesn’t know if she’s made the right decision in coming to Iowa. It’s clear she is confused and unhappy. It is a very honest and tender moment between father and daughter. He tells her, “you can’t think of what anyone else has to say, you just have to do what’s right for you.”

I watched this scene again and thought about choices and the expectations we have of ourselves, and the expectations we perceive other people to have of who we’re supposed to be. How do we know what’s right for ourselves? Nobody leaves Iowa, Hannah insists. It would be a stupid decision. “Sometimes the stupidest fucking decision is the right decision for you,” her father reminds her in probably one of the most earnest moments of the entire series.

So, what was going to be the right decision for me? There was only one way to find out. If Hannah Horvath could apply to a writing program, so could I. I could make her story my reality. I wasn’t so much competing with a fictional character as I was testing myself to see that I was capable of having direction.

I re-watched this episode a few nights ago and suddenly found that I had a newfound sympathy for Hannah. I had previously designed her a quitter and a coward, wondering why she would give up so easily. But it’s never that simple. It’s a difficult thing, knowing what you want, let alone what you don’t want. What’s right for someone else, isn’t always right for you. At least she tried. I wanted to try. And I’m now I’m in the middle of my second semester.

In the premiere episode of season six, Hannah has her first piece published in the Modern Love column of the New York Times. This episode happened to air a couple weeks after I had just had my first short story published in a local alternative paper. The stars felt aligned and I watched the rest of the season looking for ways to reflect on my future. But my life isn’t a television show. I have to make my experiences and decisions my own. Applying myself was the right decision.

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