If you’ve been living on the planet Earth (or Tatooine, Hoth, et al), you’ve heard a lot about Star Wars this year. Between the enormous success of last year’s The Force Awakens and the major hype surrounding the upcoming Rogue One, it’s a super exciting time for nerds like me.
When my old roommates and I reunited last December to see The Force Awakens, we were excited to see what our heroes had been up to and to check in on the state of the galaxy, but we never expected that the film would be so meaningful. It wasn’t just a nostalgic look back at our favorite childhood franchise — it was also chock full of new lessons that we could apply to our lives as young adults. Here are a few:
1. Think for yourself
Stormtroopers are just mindless drones brainwashed into defending a cruel galactic dictatorship, right? Wrong. Enter Finn (John Boyega), a stormtrooper for the sinister First Order. Finn is traumatized after seeing one of his fellow troopers die during a village skirmish. Moments later, when he is ordered to kill the remaining villagers, Finn cannot obey. Although he’s afraid of the consequences of disobeying his leader, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Finn follows his own conscience. In so doing, he is able to leave the First Order and join the Resistance in their efforts to liberate the rest of the galaxy.
2. Teamwork makes the dream work
When Finn meets up with Rey (Daisy Ridley) on the planet Jakku, they must work together to dodge the First Order’s TIE fighters in the long-since retired Millennium Falcon. How do they do it? By divvying up the responsibilities according to each other’s strengths, keeping the lines of communication open and clearly articulating their needs.
3. Be humble: the galaxy doesn’t revolve around you!
Who run the galaxy? Girls. There’s a new Jedi in town and her name is Rey. It’s great to see such a strong, independent female character in the Star Wars universe, and to top it off, Rey is also a model of humility.
In a heart-stopping moment, Rey actually turns off the Falcon so that, as it falls to the ground, Finn can have a clear shot at the incoming TIE fighter. It’s maybe the most impressive bit of flying in the entire Star Wars saga, but after they successfully leave the planet, Rey doesn’t hog all the glory: She and Finn both talk rapidly, gushing compliments at each other. And again, after Rey saves Finn from the rathtars, she decides not to take credit for her actions. When it’s clear that Finn is unaware of the part she played in rescuing him, Rey simply says, “That was lucky,” and they move on.
4. Take responsibility and fight for the world you want to live in
Rey and Finn both start off as little more than children, looking out mainly for themselves. Rey wants to get back to Jakku to wait for her family, and Finn wants to run and hide from the First Order. But they come to realize that they are a part of something bigger and that saving the galaxy is their responsibility now. It’s a great lesson for our generation to learn — if we want to see the world we live in change for the better, it’s up to us to make it happen now.
5. Ask for help when you need it
At the same time, it’s important to remember that our elders have experience that we don’t have, and sometimes we must recognize our own limitations and ask for their help. Although The Force Awakens is about passing the torch to the next generation, it ends with Rey holding Luke’s lightsaber out to him, silently asking him to take it back. She can’t go it alone. She needs his help. And she’s humble and courageous enough to ask.
For my friends and me, The Force Awakens outmatched our incredibly high expectations. Not only did it bring back that feeling of being a kid again, but it also had messages and themes that felt especially relevant to us as young adults. And luckily, there’s more to come. The first showing of Rogue One hits US cinemas on December 15 at 7:00pm, and my squad is READY. (Yeah, I definitely woke up at three in the morning last week to buy tickets as soon as they went on sale.)