Life Lessons From Harriet The Spy

Image from: TV Guide

Harriet The Spy was a movie that spoke to me as a kid and taught me lessons that are still relevant to this day. The movie, with Michelle Trachtenberg and Rosie O'Donnel, is about a girl who trying to focus on what she's good at. What looks like an obsession on the outside is more of a specialty hobby to her. So what if it's a Nickelodeon kids flick from 1996. It was great when I was 7, and it's just as wise when I'm 23. Here are the life lessons I grew up with thanks to Harriet The Spy:

1. Tell the truth on a need to know basis, and it should be flattering. Don't lie or keep important information from people, because of course a lack of disclosure could hurt more. But there are some things we need to think twice about before saying. Kyle Sandilands and Alan Jones, I'm talking to you. Harriet tells it exactly how it is. She writes down an unflattering verbal portrait of everyone around her. She describes one friend's face as 'pinched.' The grown up equivalent is definitely, "Does my bum look big in this?" The answer is never yes. Ever. Of course not. We do feel a need to balance reality with image and impressions. Bravo Harriet for teaching this to 7 year old Mel.

2. Embrace your niche. Harriet finds her strength early on through a skill that comes naturally and helps her understand the world. Her writing starts really small. She's not a child prodigy printed all over the world at age eleven. She starts by doing something little in the area she loves. Harriet writes for the school paper. This is such an ordinary activity. But everyone in the show believes she will grow into exactly what she wants to be.

3. We don't always find our niche immediately. It's great Harriet found her strength early. But not all of us are like that. Maybe you're a Harriet, and knew from the beginning what you would be. But you might be a Marrion. She was the girl who was given all the blessings she needed to find her strength, but still struggled to grow her skills. She's an ok dancer in the movie, but not exactly funky. I definitely took some time to figure out what I was good at. I listened to Judith Durham as a toddler, but there's no career as a wannabe Judith. Heck, all throughout school I searched to find my voice. It was only after a year out of school that I discovered marketing. I didn't know about marketing at Harriet's age. Maybe you're more like Marion & me. Maybe you're still searching for your niche. Just remember it's out there somewhere.

 4. It's ok to be different. Differences have always divided people, but they definitely shouldn't. Golly explains Harriet is different, and that difference will always make people feel uncomfortable. Harriet's 'obsession' with her hobby felt too different to the people around her. They didn't know how to handle behaviour that they didn't understand. This is really common for successful people. Lady Gaga once said she felt isolated at school because she sung. It was just an unusual pass time in her community and so her peers didn't identify with it. Blogging feels like a slightly different activity. Blogs might be on everyone's screen, but it's different to actually create one. Blogging involves a risk of rejection and judgment. It's unusual to put plenty of content on the internet and hope for the best. This is more public than public speaking (which is just as fun by the way). But it's completely rewarding when readers identify with a piece. Just like Harriet and Gaga, it's great when we go against the grain to do something great.

Do you remember Harriet The Spy? What movie spoke to you as a kid? What movie speaks to you now?


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