Life Lessons from Being Erica
My cousin Lacey suggested a show for me on Hulu called Being Erica. The story is about Erica Strange, a 30-something highly-educated, underemployed, single, frustrated woman who doesn’t know what to do with her life. Sound familiar. Yea, I thought so. No wonder why she thought I’d like it.
Erika is stuck in one dead-end job after another. After getting fired, again, her family subjects her to yet another “pep-talk” that goes no where. It just makes her more frustrated, she knows she’s in a rut. She knows she should be more. She knows her life isn’t working. She even goes as far as jumping out of her bedroom window to get away from their “encouragement.”
However upon her escape she meets a therapist who says he can help her find herself and fix her regrets, “results guaranteed.” Since she has nothing left to try she gives in. But she has no idea what she’s gotten herself into. This isn’t ordinary talk therapy. This “therapist” has the ability to send her back in time. She gets to and has to relive pivitol moments of her life that got her where she is today. Yikes, can you imagine. There are part of my life I do not need to see in 3-D again.
I do love stories about time travel. There is something romantic about it. It also gives a sense of redemption. When you can go back to right what went wrong, gain understanding and clarity, you can recover what you lost and find a new perspective on yourself. For Erica, going back as an adult helps her see what was going on that she couldn’t see with her childish eyes and heart. Sometimes the choices she made the first time around are validated and it gives her more confidence.
I think that was the first thing I learned from her. One of her big regrets in college was whimping out of the intiation to join Literati, a secret society on campus. She was one of the few asked to pledge that year and after a brutal first assignment, requiring her to trash the competition in a verbal assault, she felt uncomfortable and left. She saw it as a failure that prevented her from getting ahead in her life. Erica thought if she could go back and go through with it she’d have more options.
So Erica went back to the day of her invitation to join and got to re-write her history. She was ready to kill in the first and all other rounds of initiation and she did. She made it. She was in. Then she learned that Literati published an unofficial slam paper everyweek and to stay in the group she had to dig up dirt they could publish.
Fixated on future goals she did, on her best friend’s girlfriend, knowing it could destroy her relationships. She became the worst version of herself to fit in with them. So for the second time she decided to quit Literati. Her instincts were right. She wasn’t meant to be a part of that group. It wasn’t going to help her become who she wanted to be.
Quitting twice didn’t radically change her life. She was still stuck but more sure of herself. It gave her confidence that she was true to her values and her beliefs. This also ties into the notion that there is a story God is weaving through our lives. The choices we make contribute to or distract from that story. How in touch with are with this narrative really depends on how in touch we are with God and ourselves.
That seems very philsophical but it really helped me take stock in my life in a different way. I have lots of regrets and wonder what I missed out on because of choices made. But if I could go back and re-do it would I end up making the same decision again? Maybe, maybe not.
But if I look at a string of decisions I’ve made. a picture does emerge about who I am and what I want. Sometimes the picture isn’t pretty, in my 20s it drove me to therapy. In my 30s what emerged was more of my true self, I was becoming more of who I wanted to be. Now the hard part is to stay true to my convictions and to have the courage to take necessary risks out of the new found sense of security.
I’m watching all three seasons of Being Erica, so I see more lessons forthcoming.