I used to spend hours in front of the TV, watching mindless shows that added nothing to my life. The death of my dad, however, changed what I chose to watch.
When I reached a certain point in my schooling, I would come home from a long day tired, stressed, and more, and sit myself in front of a TV show. During these hours, I was able to escape from my life and my problems. Everything could wait until the episode was over.
This habit continued into my weekends at the beginning of my freshman year. This meant that about five minutes before the news of my dad's death hit my household, I was watching TV. Now, when I saw TV, the shows I watched fell into three basic categories: unrealistic, unhelpful, and mindless. In that particular show, all I had learned from the many seasons that I watched was that if I looked different from the rest of my family, did not act like them, and if I had a kid at my school who looked more like my family than I did, I might have been switched at birth. Needless to say, that knowledge has not yet helped me in any aspect of my life. After I found out about my dad's death, I continued to watch the show for a few weeks. But, for some reason, it wasn't the same. And from that point on, shows like that were never the same for me.
There would be times where I just wanted to escape my life with meaningless TV in the months after my dad's death. Even during these points, I was still unable to fully enjoy them as I had used to. Why am I watching this? I would think to myself. Why am I wasting my life with these shows, when I could be watching things that reflect what I'm going to, teach a lesson, or that could impact my life? It was like my dad's death had flipped on a switch in my mind and reminded me that I only had one life to live and that I'd better start filling it with good things.
So, I began what I like to call Natalie's Search for a Good Show That is Also Semi-Realistic and Actually Addresses Real-Life Issues and Teaches Me Something and That Isn't Just Mindless Procrastinating. As you can probably imagine, the search wasn't exactly simple. I started, then deserted, many, many shows. But, between these failed attempts, I found a few, amazing shows. I found shows that depicted grief, ones that showed what it was actually like for high schoolers, and shows that were more than just excuses for me to procrastinate. When I watched these, I learned more about myself and my life - especially my grief. Watching characters learn about their loved one's deaths, seeing interactions with their peers who didn't understand, and just being able to know that I was not alone helped me in more ways than mindless TV ever did.
Today, I am still selective of my shows, and I've found some amazing ones that I wouldn't have otherwise. Life is short, and my dad's death helped remind me that, even with what shows I watch, I shouldn't waste my time on things that won't change my life. Because, let's face it: It's too late to consider the possibility of me being switched at birth.
Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks. Photo by Z Yu.