10 Life Lessons We Learned From ‘Boy Meets World’
For many of us who grew up in the ’90s, ‘Boy Meets World’ was a Friday night TV staple. Watching Cory, Shawn and Topanga grow up onscreen worked as an informative parallel to our own confusing, angst-filled journeys through middle and high school. Even now, 14 years after the show has ended, isn’t it hard to think back to your favorite onscreen childhood memories without fondly remembering Shawn’s bouncy, boyish haircut or Mr. Feeny’s infallible words of wisdom?
With the show’s down-the-road sequel ‘Girl Meets World’ premiering tonight (June 27), it got us thinking about everything ‘Boy Meets World’ taught us as kids. The hallways of John Adams High were a source of knowledge and comfort as we attempted to shakily navigate our own adolescences in the real world, and we hope the teens tuning into the new show will find the same humorous encouragement we did in its predecessor.
As we gear up for the ‘Girl Meets World’ debut, let’s reminisce on the best 10 life lessons we learned from ‘Boy Meets World.’
Growing up isn’t easy.
One of the best parts of ‘Boy Meets World’ is that the show didn’t go overboard with sugarcoating. There were times when everything didn’t fall neatly into place for the characters, and they were forced to adapt, think and react accordingly. (Remember when Eric didn’t get into college?)
True, the series ended with everyone generally happy and in good, steady places in their lives, but the journey there wasn’t a smooth one. Life can be confusing, and scary, and downright agonizing at times. The show taught us that even if everything works out in the end, growing up isn’t always easy.
Listen to the adults.
As a kid, it was hard to understand — or believe — that the adults had any clue what they were talking about, but they usually did. Revisiting old episodes will only drive that home. While Amy and Alan, Cory’s parents, might not stick out to you when you think of the show, it’s nearly impossible to watch episodes now and not appreciate the patient steadfastness that they provided to all of the teens, not just the two related to them. Whether Cory wanted to hear it or not (and he often didn’t), they almost always had a heart-to-heart up their sleeves or genuinely sound wisdom to impart.
And let’s not forget Mr. Feeny, neighbor, teacher and mentor to them all. He could rule this life lesson all on his own. Amidst his dry, sometimes snarky remarks, Mr. Feeny doled out more useful advice on ‘Boy Meets World’ than we could ever hope to fit into one PopCrush article.
Friendship is a real gift.
Best friends, lifelong pals, bro-mates — whatever you want to call it, Cory and Shawn were it. Their unwavering friendship (we’ll ignore the one time Shawn chose his girlfriend Jennifer when she gave him a Cory-or-me ultimatum) should stand as an inspiration to all ‘BMW’ fans. Is there anything better than having a friend who will unconditionally stand by you through the years?
Mr. Feeny put it best (as always) when he said, “Friendship, for example, is a real gift. And it’s given with no expectation and no gratitude is necessary. Not between real friends.”
Be yourself, no matter how weird.
Who could forget weird, hippie-minded Topanga from the first season? Despite being constantly teased by her classmates (ahem, Cory and Shawn), Topanga stuck by her flower child roots and proudly (and peacefully) combatted their quips. “I don’t think I’m weird,” she explained. “I think I’m unique.”
Whether you think you’re weird or unique, or anything in between, be true to yourself. Cory loved Topanga despite her penchant for rubbing lipstick on her face while reciting strange poetry, and people will love you for your quirks, too.
Physical appearance is secondary to inner beauty.
Who doesn’t struggle with their appearance sometimes, especially in the brutal atmosphere of high school? When Cory started to doubt his looks, particularly in comparison to his pretty girlfriend, Topanga took a pair of scissors to her hair and hacked away. “It’s just a little hair. It has nothing to do with who I am,” she claimed.
Though Topanga’s resulting freak-out may say otherwise, the message was clear — she didn’t care what Cory looked like, or what she looked like, because that takes a backseat to personality. Topanga summed it up perfectly when she told Cory, “Physical appearance is secondary to inner beauty.”
Running away doesn’t solve problems.
Shawn didn’t have it easy growing up. His absentee parents led to him feeling out-of-place, floating around without a home base. Though the Matthews and later his English teacher Mr. Turner opened their homes to Shawn, he chose to run away from both once he began to feel unwanted.
Spoiler alert: Running away in sitcoms never works out, and it works just the same in real life, too. By running away from his problems rather than talking it out, Shawn was pushing away people who considered him family. It might have felt good to escape temporarily, but at the end of the day, Shawn needed a home and people to love him — and problems need to be worked on, not escaped from.
Family can be found anywhere.
Shawn might not have had parents that stuck around, but he did have a family. Cory, Topanga, Eric, Mr. Feeny — and later, Jack and Angela — became a hodgepodge, adopted family for Shawn that didn’t need any blood relations to form unbreakable bonds.
‘Boy Meets World’ excelled at showing us that family extends beyond direct relations. Family can be found in friends, mentors, roommates and significant others. Family is defined by love, not blood.
Everyone’s journey is different.
Let it be said that there are no two alike characters on ‘Boy Meets World.’ Each role in the show brought something new to the table, and as such, each character’s journey was different from everyone else’s.
Some people marry young; others decide college isn’t the right choice for them; one in particular spirals into a manic, air-headed older brother. No two people are like so neither are two journeys alike. There’s no need to continuously compare ourselves and our lives to those around us, because what works for one person would be a poor fit for another. We’re all unique, right? Let’s keep it that way!
Love is the greatest aspiration.
It takes Cory some English lessons on ‘Romeo and Juliet’ — courtesy of Mr. Feeny, of course — for him to understand the importance of love. As the wise teacher put it, “There is no greater aspiration than to have love in our lives, Mr. Matthews. Romeo knew it and died for it.”
Cory might not have understood the message at the time (he was in middle school, after all), but his numerous grand gestures of romance over the years for his high school sweetheart Topanga proves it was a notion he learned once he found his soul mate.
Let’s be realistic for a second — we probably won’t or didn’t meet our soul mates in the sixth grade. But we have our friends and family, and their love is just as important. Romeo would have died for his BFF Mercutio, too!
Believe in yourself. Dream. Try. Do good.
Mr. Feeny’s last piece of advice to Cory, Shawn, Topanga and Eric is likely his best ever. He managed to sum up the entire series in one last statement, shared in the very classroom where it all began seven years before. It captured the humor and the heartache, the hellos and goodbyes, and every moment tucked in between.
The moral of ‘Boy Meets World’ can be applied directly to our own lives. Have confidence in your abilities, always keep reaching for your goals and be good to yourself and others.
And that’s a wrap, Mr. Feeny.