9 Lessons From 80s Movies That Will Make Your 20s Much More Bearable

by Sarah Midkiff
Universal Pictures

Though I didn't grow up in the 80s or study film in college, there's a special place in my heart for movies from that decade.

Some of the most iconic scenes in pop culture came from these flicks, such as the lift at the end of "Dirty Dancing," Lloyd Dobler holding a huge boombox over his head in "Say Anything..." and the parade in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

The list goes on.

Iconizing these films has become a double-edged sword, toeing the line between famous and infamous.

They have been praised for developing the teen movie genre, but they've also have been viewed as clichéd, with formulaic character tropes and themes.

After countless years of enjoying these classics (and a recent Netflix marathon), I've developed a list of life lessons and morals that should be taken to heart.

1. Do not let your friends think for you

Starring Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty, the black comedy "Heathers" depicts the lives of four teenage girls at Westerburg High School.

Three of whom are are named Heather, and are controlled by the leader Heather. This clique allows themselves to be controlled however the top Heather sees fit.

The newest addition to the infamous clique, Veronica, has reached her tipping point with the Heathers, and she longs for her old life outside of the domineering group.

A dark comedic plot ensues, but a lesson to take away from this movie is to not let your friends think for you.

Whether they have your best interests at heart or not, nothing good comes from taking a passive role in your own life.

Veronica learns this the hard way, but luckily, through watching this cult classic, you won't have to do the same.

2. Some of your best friendships can be made when you least expect it, with people you would not suspect.

One fateful Saturday, five students — a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse — arrived at their high school bright and early for all-day detention.

Assigned a 1,000-word essay titled, "Who You Think You Are," these near strangers spend the day confiding in one another.

They eventually come to realize the human experience extends past their different backgrounds and cliques.

One of many iconic movies involving the Brat Pack, "Breakfast Club" is a goldmine for life lessons surrounding young adulthood, friendships and self-awareness.

If you were to distill a main theme, one could arguably say it's more about the human experience and the desire to find commonalities with those around you.

These similarities are often not obvious from an exterior glance, which came as a surprise to these five high schoolers.

This movie goes to show some of your best friendships can be made when you least expect it, with people you would have never guessed.

3. Know who you are, and own it.

There are too many great lessons to be learned from "The Breakfast Club" to give it just one spot on this list.

Through sharing their lives with each other, these five students are encouraged and accepted for who they are, which brings me to the second takeaway: Know who you are, and own it.

Each of them came from different backgrounds and had different interests, but they owned it.

You can be more than one thing, but we are all unique. That is something to celebrate.

4. Take time to appreciate everything.

High school senior, Ferris Bueller, along with his girlfriend and best friend decide to skip school for the day, choosing to adventure around Chicago in grand fashion.

Throughout the movie, Ferris Bueller's spontaneity and childlike enthusiasm for life reminds us to take time and appreciate everything it has to offer.

He expresses this perfectly in the film's most famous quote:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Living in the present is the theme of this movie.

Go out, carpe that diem and remember we do not have unlimited time to do what we want.

Sometimes, we need to stop what we're doing and look around.

5. Sometimes, you just need a day off.

A second takeaway from the ever-wise Ferris Bueller that we often forget is sometimes, you just need a day off.

His best friend Cameron needed this reminder, and he was arguably better off for taking a day to de-stress and live a little.

6. Some of the biggest misunderstandings come from not communicating.

Andie Walsh is a high school senior who has a crush on Blane McDonough, a boy from her class who comes from wealth and means.

Thus ensues the classic love story of girl meets boy, girl falls for boy and girl and boy are met with resistance and classism from their respective socioeconomic backgrounds.

Her best friend Duckie acts as her support, all while experiencing his own unrequited love for her.

Miscommunications occur, and Andie must face the prospect of going to prom without a date.

A commentary on classism, male-female friendships and individuality, "Pretty In Pink" has a lot to say in its short 96 minutes.

Each time I watch this movie, one of the biggest things that sticks out to me is that pretty much everyone's problems could've been solved with some basic, honest communication. (Though, that wouldn't make for a fun movie.)

Some of the biggest misunderstandings come from not communicating.

That's not to say everything can be solved in its entirety after a quick chat, but communication is vital to understanding those around you.

7. Social stigmas should not dictate your interests.

Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, is sent back in time to 1955, where he meets his parents during their senior year of high school, and he accidentally becomes his mother's love interest.

Through a series of serendipitous events, Marty must fix the past, reconstructing his parents meeting — based on their stories of how they met and fell in love — so he can go back to the future.

One of my favorite movies (80s and otherwise), "Back To The Future" sneaks in a great message that might not be obvious at first or second viewing.

Throughout the film, both Marty McFly and his father battle the social stigmas attached to their passions and hobbies — Marty with his music, and George with his love of science fiction.

In the end, they both choose to not let social stigmas dictate their interests.

This is a great lesson, regardless of age.

Pursue what you love, whether it's a hobby or your career, and don't let what others think you should be or do change that.

8. Sometimes, you have to put yourself out there.

Another subtle class commentary, "Say Anything..." follows high school senior Lloyd Dobler in his pursuit of the sweet valedictorian, Diane Court.

His pursuits are rewarded, and their summer romance begins with a looming expiration date.

Diane is leaving for a study fellowship in England.

Though Diane is intrigued by Lloyd, her father is not. She's torn between the two, as her father pressures her to break up with Lloyd.

To win her heart, Lloyd must make a move or face loosing her forever.

Is there anything more unnerving than putting yourself out there, not knowing what will happen?

If Lloyd can do it, so can you.

It might be scary, and it doesn't always turn out how you hope.

But, if you don't try, you might never know.

9. Stretch yourself, and try new things.

One of the most recognizable 80s movies is "Dirty Dancing," which follows Baby on her family's summer vacation at a resort in the Catskills.

During her stay, she develops a crush on one of the resort's dance instructors, Johnny, and she is quickly brought into his world.

When Johnny's dance partner is unable to compete with him at a competition, Baby is thrown in the deep end and must learn the routine in time for the performance.

It's during these long rehearsals that a romance begins to develop between Baby and Johnny.

Though Baby had other reasons for accepting the challenge of becoming Johnny's new dance partner, she stretched herself and tried something new.

This is something we could all be encouraged to do more of.

It might be something you've been wanting to try for a while, or it might have just sparked your interest. Why not give it a go?

You might find it's something you love.