Let go of your inner Rachel and embrace your inner Phoebe
It’s funny isn’t it, how we don’t even need to hear their surnames to know exactly which Rachel and Phoebe we’re talking about today. For many of us Friends was the show that grew with us. We started watching in our early teenage and young adult years, and as the final episode rolled, and the group we had come to know and love disbanded, we all likely took a moment to think just how far Friends and we had come in our lives.
One of the more interesting life lessons that came from friends, wasn’t making sure that I counted ‘Mississippily’ when in the tanning booth, or never to put meat in a trifle, it was the realization that letting go of our inner Rachel and embracing our inner Phoebe is the key to authentic living.
Rachel was the character that so many of us aspired to be in our younger years, the archetype of the popular girl. Great hair (We named hair styles after her, the Rachel layers, the Rachel bob) and great clothes. She possessed an all-round cheerleader vibe that had us questioning why couldn’t be or weren’t more like Rachel. And boy if we were, how much happier, more confident, more attractive, funnier we would be!
Rachel seemed to have it all, and her ability to have it all seemed effortlessly infuriating to those of who felt awkward, unsure and uncomfortable in our own skin. We yearned to wake-up and move through the world like Rachel, to shed the second-guessing about ourselves and our abilities and face the world with luscious layers and a winning smile.
In all that time during our younger years of viewing, we never once heard ourselves utter the words ‘I wish I was more like Phoebe’. We were all too mesmerized by the promise of popularity that embracing our inner Rachel could provide us.
Phoebe was the friend we wanted, not the person we wanted to be. We appreciated her unique approach to her life, her ability to stand up in Central Perk and sing Smelly Cat to an audience with confidence and delight. Her ability to continually question the rules of society and find ways to make them work for her benefit and her pleasure. Anyone remember Princess Consuela Banana Hammock!?!
Phoebe represented the side of ourselves we kept hidden away from others. The side that only our very closest friends and family witnessed in action. Which is why she seemed like such a renegade. We watched with equal parts embarrassment and awe as she put her whole personality out into the world, every single day. Speaking her mind in every moment without pause or hesitation, walking a path that made sense to few people but provided endless moments of passion, purpose and pure comedy.
As we tuned in for the final Friends episode, we said goodbye to characters that by now weren’t just Friends to each other, but also to each and every one of us. We had been there week in and week out, we had re-watched every episode more than once, we had memorized all the lines and now it was time to let go.
In this moment of letting go, we were adults. We had grown, we had experienced memorable moments of our own that could likely rival a Friends episode and as we watched our Friends embark on a new chapter, we were also beginning to question what sort of life we wanted to create for ourselves.
This is where the realization suddenly began to dawn. It’s time to embrace our inner Phoebe. It’s time to show-up in the world as our most full and authentic selves. Life is hard, and tough and scary and overwhelming sometimes, but what often makes it more difficult is the expectations we put on ourselves that we have to be perfect, to be thriving, to be successful, to be busy, to be helpful the list goes on. One of my favorite Phoebe lines is this… ‘I wish I could, but I don’t want to’.
Embracing our inner Phoebe is the silent commitment we make to shake off our pre-conceived notions of what constitutes success, and instead live a life of passion, authenticity and pure joy. Because that, my Friends, is very often where our purpose can be found.
And if you don’t believe that letting your Buffay out the box is one of the most important acts of self-care you can imagine, don’t take it from me, take it from Rachel.
Cast your mind back to the time Phoebe and Rachel went jogging in Central Park, are you smiling. Are you remembering Phoebe racing around the park with her arms flailing around her and pure unbridled joy on her face?
Great! Now recall the moment when Rachel joins in, when she embraces her own inner Phoebe, casts aside her preoccupation with what other people think of her and just comes back to the joy of moving her body. ‘You were right this feels great! I feel so free and so graceful’.
Then she runs into a horse and falls over… and for a split second we wonder if the embarrassment of being different will kick in and Rachel will revert back. NOPE! She bounces back up, smiles at the staring faces around her and keeps going.
That is the essence of embracing our inner Phoebe Buffay. Life will knock us all down from time to time but holding onto who we really are and what we really want in those moments, is what will get us back up on our feet and moving forward.
Life is ours for the taking, and when we make a promise to show-up as our fullest and most authentic, most fabulous, Phoebe Buffay inspired selves we take so much more from life than we ever thought was possible.
Maria Laquerre is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, who specializes in addressing trauma with clients of all ages. Maria has practiced therapy in New Mexico since her return in 2008. Maria's current passion is supporting therapists in doing their best clinical work, which she pursues through offering supervision, consultation and trainings. Maria enjoys spending time with her family, watching Star Wars and Marvel movies, discussing the psychology of pop culture and loves a good book!