7 Life Lessons from Now and Then that are Still Highly Relevant Two Decades Later
I was (pleasantly) surprised when John pressed play on Netflix only to find Now and Then staring back at me the other night. It had recently been added to the streaming service in celebration of it’s release over 20 years ago (if that doesn’t make you feel old I don’t know what will). I hadn’t seen the movie since the 90’s but it was one of my faves growing up, and in constant rotation.
At the time, I was so enthralled by the beautiful actresses on the screen, that in spite of how many times I had gone on that summer tree house adventure, I had failed to truly grasp some of the incredible life lessons that were littered throughout the movie.
As John and I watched I couldn’t help but find myself reliving memories from my own childhood and relating to each character in an entirely new way as an adult. I immediately grabbed my laptop once the credits started rolling to write down some of the hidden nuggets of wisdom from the cult classic. Here are some of my faves:
1. Perfect families, hair and friendships are overrated (and don’t really exist)!
Roberta wanted her dad to come back, Teeny wanted bigger boobs, each girl had their own personal hangups in the movie. We get sold perfection…A LOT, especially with the rise of social media. We hear it all the time ‘Instagram is a highlight reel’, or “the grass is always greener”. Life isn’t about being perfect, or having something better. Life is meant to be messy, it means you are living it! Embrace the imperfections in you and your loved ones and ditch the pressure of what other people think. Forget about expectations about what life is or was ‘supposed to look like’ and enjoy each moment for what it is.
2. Be kind, ALWAYS!
The girls in the movie were terrified of Freaky Pete, simply because he only came out at night on a squeaky wheeled bike and looked a bit, well…disheveled. Luckily he didn’t hold it against them at a crucial point in the movie (don’t want to spoil it for you).
Aside from the fact that being kind to one another is just the right thing to do, you never know when you will cross paths with that lady you rude to in line at Starbucks because you were in a hurry.
BE KIND. Being kind no matter what people look like, or how your day is going is SO IMPORTANT! In the movie we soon learned that Pete wasn’t at all what the girls thought he was, which is often the case. You know what they say…don’t judge a book by it’s cover!
3. You really CAN go home again.
Now and Then opens with Demi Moore quoting Thomas Wolfe saying you can’t go home again. But you can, and I’m living proof. When I first was weighing the decision to move back to Salt Lake City from San Diego for awhile at first it felt like a HUGE step backward, like I was giving up on my dreams and moving home to shrivel up into an old lady and die alone (not exaggerating).
To my surprise, moving home was just what the doctor ordered. I met my now husband John about a month after moving back, and have spent so many days filled with joy, love and the ability to truly reconnect with my family after nearly a decade of only seeing them for 2-day holiday visits here and there.
4. 70’s Fashion is as fabulous now as it was then.
5. Embrace your individuality, don’t imitate someone else’s!
As the girls in the movie were growing up, they tried so hard to fit in and be exactly like one another. They thought that being the same meant they were friends. This was a hard lesson for me growing up. As a kid I had very little self confidence and always wanted to be like someone else. My best friend next door, the ultra-cool girls at school who were rail thin and beautiful, Rogue from X-Men.
I never saw who I was as special and spent very little time even trying to get to know the real me, and ALL OF MY TIME trying to fit in. As a thirty-five year old woman, I have finally embraced my individuality and learned the difference between imitation and inspiration. Trying to be like everyone else, is highway robbery. You are stealing the chance for the whole world to get to know YOU! So…BE YOU. Your tribe will find you. I promise.
6. Don’t be so afraid of the bad stuff, that you miss out on the good.
It can be so easy to get caught up in fear, and fear can be CRIPPLING! I can’t tell you how many times I have been afraid in my life, there are way too many to count. Afraid to try out for the cheer team. Afraid to go to industry meet-ups. Afraid to talk about politics. It can be especially scary when past experiences whisper in our ears telling us we will fail, or people will laugh at us.
My girl Tessa always says to ‘do it scared’. My sister-in-law mentioned one day that fear and excitement are very much the same emotion, but it boils down to how we choose to perceive a situation. That really stuck with me and I have really been trying to just feel the fear, and do it anyway. It’s been very liberating, so much in fact that I challenge you that next time you find yourself saying ‘I’d better not’ – ask yourself why? Or rather…why not?!
7. Things will happen in your life that you can’t stop, but that’s no reason to shut out the world.
So this is probably the most valuable lesson in the whole movie. Whether you believe in a higher power, or not – one thing is certain: bad things happen, and sometimes they happen to really good people. It can be hard to understand and even harder to accept. As a teenager, my grandparents who really helped raise me were hit by a car while they were crossing a crosswalk on their way home from a church function. I was devastated and spent years asking myself how God could let this happen, and if I could have somehow changed their fate.
The loss was so hard to bear that I never wanted to feel it again. Like Samantha in Now & Then, I figured if I didn’t let people in, I limited my odds of ever having to. For a long time, I shut out my relationship with a higher power and the world. It took a very long time for me to realize that I was only hurting myself by focusing on the bad thing that happened to them. What would Oma and Opa want me to do? They would want me to remember the 17 beautiful years we shared together and all of the incredible lessons they taught me. They would want me to share my best self with the world.
Loss and trauma are hard, no doubt about it. I miss my grandparents every day. That being said, dwelling on the past does nothing but steal from the present, and project fear onto your future. So rather than give into fear, I am choosing love. I know it sounds corny, but at the end of the day it really can be that simple, if we let it.
Needless to say this coming of age chic flick was filled with inspirational life lessons that made it worth the watch over a decade later, if you still haven’t had a chance to watch it you can add it to your Netflix watch list here!
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