Over the past couple of months I’ve made it one of my many missions to watch all seven seasons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Because as Buffy says,
“The mission is what matters.”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Buffy, she is the one and only vampire slayer of her generation, meant to protect the world from demons, vampires, and all the likes of evil you can think of. She’s a guardian of the world, and in fact she does save the world many times over.
In the beginning, she makes two friends named Willow and Xander who become her best friends and most helpful allies along with her watcher (mentor), Giles. She saves their lives countless times too. Good TV shows are entertaining, but Great TV shows also teach you about life.
I get so emotionally invested in TV that I am still recovering from the series finale that I watched last night. I love TV in the same way that I love to travel because I can go somewhere I’ve never been before while never leaving my tiny twin bed. Every episode of Buffy is an adventure and an opportunity to get to know the characters better. I know they aren’t real in reality, but they are real in my heart and the lessons they offer can be real too.
Buffy taught me that even when you feel alone, you’re not. There are people around you who support you, want to be close to you, and want you to succeed. The slayers before Buffy had a tendency to stay away from other people, but having a support system is what made Buffy such a champion and a truly outstanding leader to boot. At one point she dies to save the world and her final words to her sister are these:
“Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I will always love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles … tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I’m okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world … is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me.”
“Be Brave. Live.” What beautiful words. We all stumble, but as long as we keep pushing forward we can be brave too. Her tombstone so lovingly says,
“Buffy Anne Summers
She saved the world.
I think that’s an understatement. Don’t worry, Willow brings her back to life with her super powerful magic.
You just don’t see strong female characters life Buffy on television all that often. No, there isn’t really a Vampire Slayer in the world, but there are women out there like Buffy. And honestly, I hope to be as strong and brave as her. If you look past all the drama and the fantastical elements of the story, what you’re left with is real everyday issues. How do we love? How do we forgive? How do we move on? Who are we meant to be? In the last episode of the final season Buffy has an extraordinary moment of clarity when she tells Angel (her soulmate…in my opinion) this:
Buffy: “You know, in the midst of all this insanity, a couple things are actually starting to make sense. And the guy thing— I always feared there was something wrong with me, you know, because I couldn’t make it work. But maybe I’m not supposed to.”
Angel: “Because you’re the slayer?”
Buffy: “Because— OK, I’m cookie dough. I’m not done baking. I’m not finished becoming whoever the hell it is I’m gonna turn out to be. I make it through this, and the next thing, and the next thing, and maybe one day I turn around and realize I’m ready. I’m cookies. And then, you know, if I want someone to eat— uh, or enjoy warm, delicious cookie me, then…that’s fine. That’ll be then. When I’m done.”
This is the moment Buffy grows up, and I was lucky enough to see it. It’s amazing that I can get to know a group of people without having to actually get to know them. I get to learn from their problems and mistakes without having to experience them myself. Also, I love this final speech because I’m cookie dough too.
I’m not done baking. And that’s just another lesson learned.