So, no one told you life was gonna be this way, huh?
Over its ten seasons and endless rewatches on our TV screens, Friends has showered us with some golden life lessons - and it’s completely understandable why. The hit sitcom about six twenty somethings growing up and making mistakes in New York City has an invaluable amount of advice hidden between each of its episodes.
Whether it be practical tips (like Rachel doing laundry for the first time in her life) or more serious, emotional beats (such as Joey learning the heartache of love), there is a life lesson in Friends for each of us.
Below, we have picked out our top 10 pieces of life advice that we have taken away from our countless watches - and rewatches - of Friends. Have a browse through these crucial life lessons:
1. Change isn’t always a bad thing
In the very first episode of the sitcom, we meet Rachel as she leaves her pre-planned life with orthodontist Barry behind, and embraces change as a single waitress. Although the initial leap of faith is terrifying for her, it ends up being the best decision she ever made. Similarly, when the gang all start turning 30 in season 7, Joey panics that life can only go downhill from there - “Why, God, why?! Why are you doing this to us?!”. Eventually, though, life settles and he realises that things aren’t all that bad. Sometimes, a bit of change can be a really healthy experience.
2. Never give up on your dreams
When we first meet Friends, we quickly realise that they all have big dreams - Monica wants to be a head chef in a luxurious restaurant, Rachel wants to work in the fashion industry, Joey dreams of being a famous actor, and Chandler is desperate to get out of his office job. Although it takes them some time, they all eventually reach their career goals. In Chandler’s case, he doesn’t reach his desired job in advertising until he’s in his late 30s. The point is, it’s never too late to chase your dreams and go after that job you’ve always wanted. The world is your oyster!
3. Quirks are to be embraced
Let’s face it, none of our Friends are particularly ‘cool’ in the conventional sense! Phoebe runs with her limbs flailing about, Chandler constantly embarrasses himself, Ross always manages to bore the group with his endless historical knowledge, and Joey isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, if you know what we mean. However, none of these things diminish our love for these characters, and nor should they. In fact, these things are often what we love most about them! Friends teaches us that we should embrace both our own and each other’s quirks, and that they should always be worthy of celebration.
4. Sometimes, the mundane is all you need
In life, we can often feel pressured to have amazing days every day and to excel in everything we do. However, Friends is a great reminder of how sometimes, the mundane can often be extraordinary. Our favourite example of this is in season 1, when Rachel spends an entire episode in stress over her friends from home getting married, getting pregnant or getting job promotions - “and I’m getting coffee, and it’s not even for me!”, she wails. However, by the end of the episode, as she watches the rest of the gang hilariously get into a tumble over a game of twister, Rachel realises that she doesn’t need to reach extravagant life goals all the time - she just needs a good group of people around her, and that’s exactly what she’s got.
5. Friends are for life
One of our favourite quotes from the show lands in season 7, in the episode titled ‘The One With All The Cheesecakes’. After Joey abandons dinner plans with Phoebe so that he can go on a date, Phoebe later gives an impassioned speech to him about the value of friendship and keeping your promises. “Boyfriends and girlfriends are going to come and go, but this,” Phoebe gestures between herself and Joey, “is for life.” This moment always tugs on our heartstrings, as it is completely true. Your friends will always be there for you (theme song pun intended) and it is those relationships that will carry you throughout your life.
6. Taking unconventional routes in life is okay
One of the things we love most about Friends is how it showcases that taking a different path in life is never a bad thing. The best example of this is through motherhood, which the show tackles in incredibly modern ways. All three of Friends' female leads end up having unconventional pregnancy or motherhood journeys; Phoebe becomes a surrogate for her brother Frank and gives birth to triplets; Rachel accidentally falls pregnant with Ross, years following their breakup; and Monica and Chandler end up adopting twins after discovering that they are unable to conceive naturally. Plus, how could we forget Carol and Susan? The couple broke boundaries in the 90s by raising Carol and Ross' son Ben together. By highlighting these different routes, Friends reminds us there are lots of different paths to take in life.
7. Let exes stay exes
Friends teaches us many lessons about love, but one of the biggest pieces of advice it has to offer is to let sleeping dogs lie. This is particularly true in the case of Chandler, who struggles many times to shake off the grip that his ex-girlfriend Janice has on him. Although Janice’s re-appearances are always hilariously done (we never fail to giggle when we hear her iconic “Oh! My! God!” or her piercing laugh), Chandler always inevitably ends up regretting bumping into her again. So, we must learn from Chandler’s mistakes! Of course, in rare exceptions, reuniting with exes can end in a happy ending (hello, Ross and Rachel), but in most cases, it’s better to just move on.
8. Don’t stress when things don’t go to plan
In typical hilarious sitcom fashion, almost none of Friends’ big events go off without a hitch. Whether it be the snowstorm that impacts Phoebe and Mike’s wedding, the mix-up with the birthday cake that threatens to spoil baby Emma’s first birthday, or the many, many things that go wrong on Monica and Chandler’s wedding day, the show is excellent at teaching us that, most of the time, things won’t go to plan. So, embrace the chaos! Even if a few elements don’t go to plan, we still guarantee that every big life event that you celebrate will be a joyful and memorable one.
9. Don’t get married while drunk
A pretty standard piece of advice, we think, but still an important one to mention! We will never forget the shock we felt when we first watched season 5’s ‘The One in Vegas’, which ends with Monica and Chandler spontaneously deciding to go to a church to get married, only to be gatecrashed by a very drunk Ross and Rachel exiting the very same church as man and wife. Although it makes for brilliant comedy, it’s not something that we - or any of the Friends characters - would generally recommend.
10. The real world sucks, but you love it anyway
Our last entry on this list is one of our most beloved quotes from the entire show. It is said by Monica in the very first episode, after Rachel goes on a guilt-led shopping spree with her Daddy’s credit card. Encouraging her to grab independence with both hands, the gang cheer Rachel on as she, one by one, cuts all of her bank cards linked to her father’s account. Amid the whoops and claps afterwards, Monica gives Rachel a hug and says, “Welcome to the real world. It sucks! You’re gonna love it.” It’s a motto we try to live by every day - most of the time, the ‘real world’ isn’t kind and it can be an uphill battle, but it’s worth the climb.