Disclaimer: This article includes “Gilmore Girls” spoilers (if you haven’t watched it, stop what you’re doing, and go watch it now!)
One of my all-time favorite shows is “Gilmore Girls,” and of course, I am wholly obsessed with Rory Gilmore’s character. She’s super relatable. As a girl who has gone through the ups and downs of high school, and now college, I can learn from Rory’s challenges and victories with friends, school, confidence and self-esteem.
1. Sometimes, you get bad grades.
Season 1, Episode 4: The Deer Hunters
Season One presents a challenge for Rory: a fancy elite prep school with a lot of different expectations than her last school. She’s previously been able to wiz through her classes and homework (being the literary genius that she is), but when she gets to Chilton, her English teacher gives her her first ‘D’ on an essay. This is extremely relatable (college, am I right?). Yet, she takes that as a minor setback and studies super hard for her next test to make up for it. We need to learn that sometimes, we won’t get the grade we want no matter how hard we’ve worked. What really counts is what we learn from that grade, and how we use that experience to make our next assignment even better!
2. Stuff happens, even when you don’t have control over it.
Season 1, Episode 4: The Deer Hunters
In the same episode as above, Rory spends an entire week studying for a test to make up for her bad essay grade. However, on her way to school, she gets hit by a deer, and ends up being late for the test, which is crazy. Her teacher won’t let her take it, even though she begs him. Also crazy, and every bit annoying. As the episode ends, we see that even though Rory gets the help of her mother, the headmaster won’t make any exceptions for her. The greatest part about this episode is that Rory knows her goal – Harvard – and she won’t leave Chilton for anything, even for a fluke like this. Even when we don’t have control over setbacks, we can’t lose sight of what we are striving for, because, in the end, we are going to get there.
3. There’s a time to be social, but not if it interferes with who you are.
Season 2, Episode 7: Like Mother, Like Daughter
Fast forward to Season Two. Rory has gotten more acclimated to Chilton, but still doesn’t have many friends. Naturally, this prompts the guidance counselor to give her a lecture about how she needs to stop being a “loner” and socialize more. So, she ends up (quite by accident) sitting at a table of girls who identify themselves as the Puffs (a secret society…because apparently those exist in high school). Yet, those girls end up being everything that Rory doesn’t want to be: snobby and hoity-toity. Rory’s reaction at the end of this episode is awesome. Not only does she remind us that we should have the opportunity to choose who we hang out with, but also, that we shouldn’t be pressured to hang out with people who are negative influences on us.
4. The haters can’t win if you stand your ground.
Season 2, Episode 5: Nick & Nora/Sid & Nancy
As a result of Paris getting mad at Rory, she gives her the worst topic to write about for the school newspaper – the repaving of the school’s parking lot. Rory decides to write the best article she can no matter what. She ends up getting praise from the teacher for turning a boring article into a deeply emotional exposé. I love how Rory deals with Paris’ ridiculous attitude problem by choosing not to cower to someone who is trying to put her down, but instead, stands up for herself by giving 100 percent effort, despite the circumstances.
5. Even the most carefully laid out plans change.
Season 3, Episode 17: A Tale of Poes and Fire
For most of the series, Rory’s goal was to go to Harvard. However, after being set up with a surprising appointment for Yale by her grandfather, and applying (much to her mom’s dismay), Yale becomes a real possibility for Rory. She spends time making pro-and-con lists, but as you can see in this episode, she finds that Yale is the best fit for her. Lorelai realizes it too. I think this is so important because it shows us that even if we strive for the one end-all-be-all path, a new path might reveal itself that changes our lives forever.
6. College can get overwhelming.
Season 4, Episode 14: The Incredibly Sinking Lorelais
Some of the most relatable parts of the series are Rory’s college years. In this episode, Rory finds herself overloaded with the amount of classes she’s taken, and the amount of work that’s coming from them. She can’t bear to take less than what her grandfather took at Yale, especially because school has always come so easily for her. She has a good, long, cry in the arms of Dean (don’t even get me started on this), and gets back on her feet. Everyone feels overwhelmed in college, potentially to the point of a nervous breakdown, but that can’t stop us from getting back up and figuring out how to control being overwhelmed, whether that’s saying “no” to a previous commitment, or figuring out how to manage our time better.
7. If partying doesn’t work for you, that’s ok.
Season 4, Episode 17: Girls in Bikinis, Boys Doin’ the Twist
This episode finds Rory and Paris heading out for Spring Break (circa 2004). They initially are skeptical because they would rather spend Spring Break relaxing at snowy Yale. However, they eventually decide to try the stereotypical Spring Break trip out and after a couple days of craziness in Florida, they decide it’s not for them. But, at least they tried it out. In college especially, going partying can be a point of pressure for many students. This teaches us to try new things and if they aren’t what we are into, we can move on. The whole point is that we are seeing what is out there for us, and making the best decision about what we are interested in.
8. Take risks, live for adventure, and don’t look back.
Season 5, Episode 7: You Jump, I Jump, Jack
In my all-time favorite episode of “Gilmore Girls,” Rory learns a little bit about taking risks and living for adventure. The ever-adventurous Logan lets her be privy to his secret Yale society – the Life and Death Brigade. In doing so, they perform a stunt where they jump off a high-rise platform in formal outfits with umbrellas. So. Cool. Just go watch it. That challenges Rory to think about her life in a new light: she can have a life of adventure and still be able to reach her goals. We need to think like that as well. We can take healthy risks, be adventurous in whatever we are doing and still have a focus in life.
9. Don’t let rejection ruin your life.
Season 5, Episode 21: Blame Booze and Melville / Season 5, Episode 22: A House is Not a Home
These are actually two of my least favorite episodes. Why? To put it simply, Rory’s behavior contradicts all of her previous values and ambitions. Basically, Logan’s father tells Rory she doesn’t have what it takes to be a journalist at the end of her internship with his newspaper. Normally, someone might shake that off as a rude encounter with a mean person, but Rory takes it to mean she shouldn’t be a journalist anymore. In her anger, she steals a boat, and ends up having to do a lot of community service. On top of that, she decides to quit Yale. Moral of the story: don’t let someone’s mean words or rejection ruin what you have going for you, be strong enough to look past that and prove them wrong. (Note: Rory eventually comes to her senses and goes back to Yale, but it takes a while).
10. Choose your own path.
Season 7, Episode 22: Bon Voyage
A bittersweet finale brings bittersweet feelings for Rory. She is finally facing the real world: no more Yale, no more Logan (she rejected his marriage proposal in the previous episode), and she doesn’t really know where she is going to end up. However, she gets the opportunity to be on the campaign trail with Barack Obama and that plunges her deep into her new life. Throughout the series, Rory had many goals, but she always made sure to make decisions (aside from her quitting Yale) that had to do with what she wanted for herself. With these last few moments in Stars Hollow, we see the benefits of carving your own path because Rory is now thriving and seeing her goals pay off. In a similar way, we all need to create our own paths in life, no matter what other people think.