It’s been over 2o years since ” A Different World” went off the air, but the impact that show had on my life still resonates today. So imagine how happy I was when I discovered all 6 seasons on Netflix ( lol) . In all seriousness, I was a kid when this show was on the air, but it is amazing to think about the influence that this show had on me as a child and how the lessons I learned still impact me today. It was more than just a show. It was a platform to educate and discuss some of the most pressing issues of that time. Issues that we still deal with today. It also represents an era when television was more responsible and was used as a tool to educate as well as entertain. In this blog post, I will share six life lessons that I learned from watching ” A Different World”.
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Truly, this was one of the best episode’s of the show. Everyone familiar with the story line, knows that Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison) had a crush on Whitley Gilbert ( Jasmine Guy) since the early days of the show. Initially, Whitley did not feel the same way as Dwayne, but after years of persistence, he eventually won Whitley over. The relationship eventually blossomed into an engagement. However, as life would have it, Dwayne became confused about the relationship causing Whitley to subsequently end the relationship. Fast forward, Whitley entered into a new relationship with a local politician turned senator named Byron Douglas III ( Scandal’s Joe Morton) a few months after her breakup with Dwayne. This relationship turned into an engagement. Initially, (though obviously unhappy about the relationship) Dwayne accepted the fact that Whitley was engaged, and tried to move on. However, he soon realized that Whitley was the woman that he was actually supposed to be with. Right before, Whitley was to say ” I Do” to Byron, Dwayne crashed the wedding, and asked her to marry him. Though this is an extreme scenario, this episode was a great example of the fact that being passive can make you miss out on some of the best things that can happen in your life. Sometimes, you have to put your pride to the side and go for what you want to make your dreams happen. It won’t be easy and sometimes their our consequences to taking risks, but on the upside there can be some amazing rewards. Though Dwayne & Whitley definitely could have handled the situation better ( Poor Byron), the lesson I learned was to not sit passively by and risk missing the great destiny that could be waiting for you. So, Go for what You Want!
( Disclaimer: Not recommending anyone take someone else’s fiancée. That’s all kinds of trouble lol. )
- Follow your Dreams
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Ron Johnson (Darryl M. Bell) had dreams of being a famous musician, but felt pressure to come home after graduation to help his Dad run the family car dealership. Ultimately, Ron decided to follow his dream of being a musician despite his father’s wishes. In life, I have observed that a lot of people base their life goals and dreams on the wishes of others such as a parent , spouse or friend. However, the trouble with that is the fact that our dreams fuel our energy and our passion for life. If we spend our lives doing what others want us to do instead of following our own dreams, we do a great injustice to ourselves. I am a firm believer that your dreams can lead you to your purpose. That doesn’t mean that you will not struggle and that you will not have failures and pitfalls. I would like to think that Ron Johnson eventually made it and was successful. Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, ” The future belongs to those who believe in their dreams”.
- Contribute To The World Around You
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Freddie ( Cree Summer) was a character on the show that was passionate about the world and the environment. Her character was always fighting against some injustice or cause. Her character was that of a modern hippie, but it also signified the importance of caring about the world and the people around you. This is so important in the world we live in today. We are still dealing with global wars, racism, homelessness and more. This show taught me that we are all interconnected. The issues going on all over the world are not just the problem of the people in those areas. It is everyone’s problem. The show emphasized the importance of reciprocity.The show emphasized the importance of contributing back to the community and the world.
- Education is Key To Success
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One element that I loved about the show is the fact that there was such a positive emphasis on education. The show made such a huge impact on the youth of that era and influenced many people to be the first in their generation to graduate from college. Whether a college graduate or not, I believe the show enforced the importance of ongoing education and continuous growth.
- Never Judge A Book By Its Cover/ Do Away With Stereotypes
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In one episode, Ron (Darryl M. Bell) made some insensitive remarks about homeless people being lazy and not wanting to work. Later in the episode, he discovered that the owner of one of his favorite restaurants had become homeless due to financial bills that accumulated during a family member’s illness. This episode challenge society’s belief systems related to poverty and why some people end up homeless.
In another episode, Josie ( Tisha Campbell) revealed to her classmates that she had AIDS. This episode is still powerful today. Over 20 years since this episode aired, and there is still no cure. This episode challenge stereotypes about who can become infected, lifestyle and choices. It was a groundbreaking and revolutionary episode for that time period, and is still has an impact today.
- Real Friendships Are Invaluable
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Characters such as Kimberly Reese ( Charnele Brown) demonstrated the importance of friendship .Kim was a character that was always a voice of reason and a support system in her friendships. Overall, the show demonstrated the importance of cultivating real friendships and the benefits of real friendship. It promoted unity and support.
I really hope that they bring this show back for the next generation because the impact that it had on culture as a whole was epic. It showed a generation that there was ” a different world” full of opportunity and advancement and that the sky wasn’t the limit.