Last Updated: Oct 12, 2016
For roughly 20 of my 26 years, I have been a fan of the Muppets. And it’s a love I’ll never grow out of. When I was younger, as I’m sure is true of many fans, I just enjoyed the spectacle, the songs, and the jokes that landed with children while others whizzed over their heads. But now, as a “grownup” (I pay my own bills and do my own laundry, so I suppose that makes me a grownup), I find the sweet lessons and characters so lovingly crafted by Jim Henson and his team especially poignant. Many of my equally “grownup” friends do too.
It was no surprise to me, then, to learn the Brattle Theatre in college student–haven Cambridge, Massachusetts, hosted an annual Muppet Madness weekend. (Great ticket deals for student budgets and a fun atmosphere; check it out next year!) I caught two of the 18 showings this past weekend: The Muppets Take Manhattan and, one of my absolute favorites, The Muppet Movie.
As so often happens, out of this experience and my deep, abiding love for those felted creatures, comes a blog post. The movies got me thinking about their life lessons and how they applied to college students. We certainly followed the Muppets' advice throughout college. Though we didn’t throw fish, sleep in lockers, or hang out with chickens, we did tell lots of corny jokes—waka waka waka!
So, without further ado, here’s what the Muppets taught me about college (and life).
There’s nothing like a road trip
Whether you pile into your uncle’s old Studebaker or a psychedelic tour bus, a cross-country trip is the kind of bonding experience that college is all about. During spring or summer break, take the most reliable car at your disposal with your college friends and hit the road for a week.
It’s a surprisingly affordable adventure, as everyone can pitch in for gas and food, and you can set up tents in public campgrounds from the eastern mountains to the southwestern deserts. Check out all the weird tourist stops along the way. Take lots of pictures. You will come home with memories that last a lifetime. Just be sure to make an mp3 playlist or burn a couple of CDs for the trip; “Movin’ Right Along” is a must.
A strong circle of friends is everything
The voice-of-reason leader. The flamboyant diva. The . . . “whatever.” Everyone has friends like that, but you love them because of their quirks and idiosyncrasies. And they love you right back. In fact, you probably complement each other, like two cantankerous old critics.
In addition to all the good times, college can be tumultuous; having people you can rely on, and who can rely on you, is a true blessing. At the end of the day, you know they’ll have your back, whether you’re feeling blue (or green) or you need help putting together a madcap musical variety show. These relationships will define your college experience, and these people will (hopefully) be a part of your life for many years to come.
Of course, sometimes you must go your separate ways, and college is fraught with bittersweet goodbyes. But just like the Muppets send postcards to each other even when they’re miles apart, when you find those special people, you should absolutely keep in touch.
Keep believing, keep pretending
The Muppet Movie ends with what looks like every character that ever came out of the Workshop singing a reprise to “Rainbow Connection.” With the camera close up on Kermit and friends, they sing what are surely some of the wisest words to ever come out of a frog: “keep believing, keep pretending.”
Don’t let go of your dreams and childhood ambitions. Like the Muppets, and like Henson and the people who followed in his footsteps, stay whimsical and silly. There will be times when your faith is shaken (see Kermit having an introspective—er, more like outrospective—moment in the desert during The Muppet Movie). But at the end of the day, you can create and achieve anything if you just believe in yourself and your goals.
Can you imagine if Henson had given up on his dreams? We wouldn’t have over 50 years (50 years!) of beautiful Muppety moments, like the one below.
What have the Muppets taught you? Let us know in the comments!