Self-Awareness Through Fiction – Guest Post by Naomi West

Self-Discovery Through Fiction

 

Hey, beautiful souls! I’d like to introduce you to a childhood friend, teacher, animal lover, and writer, Naomi West. As kids, we were tossed together by circumstance and found a blessed if brief friendship. Recently, she inspired me with some comments on Facebook, and has graciously agreed to share them with you here.

A full and conscious life requires a bit of self-awareness. Considering your political views from another angle, working out where that argument with the cashier went wrong, or evaluating personal goals are ongoing parts of the process. It’s important to grow and learn about yourself in order to better enjoy and use the life you have. To stay or become the person you dream of being. To even know what your dreams are.

Many people find self-awareness through religious texts, prayer, or intentional meditation, but the inspiration for a little reflection can come from anywhere. It may happen as a result of an interaction with another person, or a friendly dog. Maybe a news story causes you to re-consider your giving or how you vote. Sometimes, it comes from the minds of television writers, whether they meant it or not.

This post contains “spoilers” regarding the Netflix show “Stranger Things”. They pertain to the character “Barb”, and were aired prior to September of 2016.

Please enjoy

The Awareness of Stranger Things

by Naomi West

Meet Barb

 

My husband Richie and I started watching the show Stranger Things on Netflix a few weeks ago. There was a character at the beginning named Barb.

The show is set in the 1980’s, so you’re going to see some outdated styles, but when I saw Barb, I was irritated all over at how ridiculous she looked to me. I couldn’t imagine a worse choice for clothing or hair and I wondered why anybody – in real life or fiction – would choose to make herself look like that. Especially when she actually had an attractive face and could’ve looked so much better.

Just as difficult to swallow was that her best friend was very attractive and stylish. I would think if you’re going to choose to walk alongside someone like that, you would step up your game.

(If you find yourself hating me right now, I understand. But keep reading.)

 

Mine was a reaction from a person who believes everybody should try to look his/her best. I’m not talking about weight because that can be a very hard battle, but things you can easily control, like your hair and your style.

 

I eventually got at least used to Barb. In one episode she sat dejectedly by the pool while her best friend was inside with a guy. Barb was supposed to be going home, but she was discouraged about her best friend’s change in behavior. Barb wasn’t going to leave her friend behind.

Suddenly, Barb was yanked into another dimension. A horrific creature was stalking her! Just as she was about to escape him, he caught her and the scene ended. Of course, I didn’t believe she was dead – I figured it was just the beginning of this other-dimensional adventure. I knew she was in trouble but I figured she would eventually be found.

When she was found, she was dead. I couldn’t accept it, so I held out for another few episodes. Even after the second time we saw her corpse, I was in such denial! I went online to confirm. I found that other fans were also having a hard time believing it. The show had to actually come out and announce, “Yes, Barb is dead, and she isn’t coming back.”

 

“… with a remorse not suited to fiction”

 

I felt sick at my stomach. It was like she was real! I told Richie I felt so badly about being critical of her appearance. His reply surprised me: “They do that on purpose. They make you confront your prejudices.”

That kind of stunned me. I hadn’t considered that the show was trying to teach me a lesson. And maybe we are giving them too much credit – maybe they were just killing off Barb to be sensational – but whatever their reason, it really affected me! I mourned Barb’s character with a remorse not suited for fiction. I just wanted her back, complete with her high-waisted pants, high-necked ruffled collar, winged hair and giant glasses. Just like that.

Now when I have a less-than-favorable response to someone’s chosen fashion, or lack thereof, I catch myself and remind myself of Barb. I certainly don’t want to lose a real person I failed to fully appreciate.

 

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