“I know there’s no greater feelin’ than the love of family …”

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It’s 2001. I am nine years old. I eagerly make my way to our expansive living room, impatiently waiting for our 90s Mitsubishi box television to switch on. Yes! It’s finally 6:30pm.

It’s time for … 7th Heaven.

Every Saturday, I anxiously awaited to be drawn into the trials and tribulations of the unforgettable, Camden family. See, I was relatively the same age as the outgoing youngest daughter, Ruthie (give or take a few years), and honestly remember thinking of her as the best thing since sliced bread.

I didn’t just like Ruthie, I wanted to be her.

At the time I was going through a rough patch. I was in my fourth year of primary school, which marked the year I started receiving mean remarks by my peers. What was I doing wrong? I thought we were friends!
Whether I was being put down because of my appearance or lack of intelligence, I didn’t know. So, what would save me from this demeaning experience? It was obvious! I had to be somebody else.
Everybody hated Jenna, but nobody could possibly hate Ruthie!

I distinctly remember an episode where Ruthie started experimenting with makeup. So, what did I do? Duh! I went to K-Mart to buy a makeup kit. But, my parent’s no-makeup rule put a spanner in the works.
Another episode featured Ruthie’s brother, Simon, defending his sister when she’s getting bullied. Um, as an older sister, that wasn’t going to happen.

I did everything in my power to mirror her opinions and actions to impress my peers, but nothing worked.

You see, I saw the Camden family as the epitome of perfect. I even remember begging my mother to adopt a whole lot of children; but to no avail.

In retrospect, this was a defense mechanism to being bullied. I wasn’t confident with who I was as a person, and to be honest, I’m still not entirely. But, I do know that I don’t have to be somebody else to be liked.

A month ago, my brother started watching it. He’s now obsessed. No wait, obsessed is an understatement. A few weeks ago, I thought I’d watch an episode with him to relive my childhood memories, minus the box television. And let me tell you, it’s one of the most unrealistic shows I have ever come across. As a child, it meant the world to me, but now, as a 21 year old, I seriously had trouble sitting through the episode. It was shocking.

That family was quite literally, screwed up. They had randoms roaming through their house on a daily basis, with most living there as if they were a part of the family. Yes, I understand how this represents the openness and accepting nature of the family, but it’s just, dare I say it, stupid. The older girls are fixated on finding a boyfriend, while the boys are desperate to get back with their ex-girlfriends. That is all they worry about. But, the most petty episode, I believe, is the one where Simon sticks his middle finger up at his friends in a joking matter. His mother’s face is priceless.

My point is, that no matter how much we compare ourselves to another person or character, we come to realise that they have their own faults. Yes, my idol per se was a fictional character, but she still meant something to me. In a few years, we will look back at our decisions and opinions, and either judge them positively, or in many cases, negatively. In other words, with experience, we grow into the person we were born to be. And, it’s only recently that I’ve come to notice this. I am proud of the person I am today. I have grown, and my judgements and beliefs on the world have too.

Life just keeps getting better … especially when you don’t realise it!

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