What I Learned from a Sitcom

Back in 2007 there was a sitcom called “Ugly Betty,” which was set in the fashion industry in New York City. At the time, I had just started a new job, was working diligently to finish an online course, had a family to care of, and even managed to squeeze in time to see a few friends and make new ones. With such a busy schedule, I wanted an outlet that would allow me to just zone out and enter another world, if you will. And as it were, “Ugly Betty” was that outlet.

Once awhile it is good to do things for yourself. Watching a TV show was a nice way to escape the craziness of my daily routine. What I did not expect, however, was that I started by watching the first season but then continued to “binge watch” the entire series at night until I had seen every episode. While this seems like overkill, this experience — and the show itself — taught me a thing or two.

The premise of “Ugly Betty” was light-hearted enough. Upon graduating from Queens College, Betty, the main character, launched head-first into her career. She was set out to get a new job and learn new skills. While sitting in the lobby of an office waiting for an interview, the hiring manager walked up, took one look at her, and said, “No way.” He then sent Betty on her way without an explanation as to why he passed her over so quickly.

So what did I learn from this scene? I learned that just because you don’t look the part does not mean that you’re not qualified for it. The key takeaway here is that no matter what role you play — whether in a job interview or getting a new role to learning a new skill — people will always try to pull you down. I don’t care what level you are in your career — it happens to the best of us.

As I continued watching “Ugly Betty,” I learned that she usually has to jump through some hoops that her boss puts her through. In our real-life daily work scenarios, we have moments where we stumble on our words or our proposals or projects are totally wrong. We fall on our faces but that is how we learn. We learn each step of the way. We forget that our boss was in our position once before. I surely hope our bosses remember where their careers began and give us constructive feedback so we can improve. Some people are not so lucky to have a boss or manager is in their corner, but we have to take those experiences and learn from them and try to make the best of it. We have to look at negative experiences and turn them into positive ones. That is the only we can better ourselves; we can only control our feelings and our fears.

Another lesson I learned from watching this sitcom is how Betty kept on doing her job. Soon, she started to make friends and earn her colleagues’ respect. She took what her co-workers gave her and made the best of it and it made her stronger. This is a good reminder for all of us when we’re faced with situations wherein we think life is not fair nor are we getting the opportunities we think we deserve.

As I dove further into the sitcom, I learned that Betty had to endure what she did in order to support her family. Her family, in turn, supported her emotionally and told she could do anything she wanted to. Betty’s father was her biggest supporter, and I believe we have that in each our life. Maybe it’s a parent but it could our boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, and other family members. Heck, it could be our pets! They do give us inspiration. Wherever we get our support, we need to appreciate it — we cannot do everything alone. We all need help at one time or another and it is okay to ask for it. I promise!

Just as Betty’s journey brought her closer and closer to her dream of writing, think about how you felt when you received your first chance to shine. We have to believe in ourselves and that we have the skills to pull it off, but we have to practice and prepare for it. This is not a time to just wing it and hope everything turns out — you constantly have to practice your craft, no matter how much raw talent you have. Practice, practice, practice and it will be second nature.

Later in the series, Betty did receive a well-deserved promotion, which left her on the proverbial “cloud nine.” Once we make that leap where we are confident in our abilities, we can achieve something great. That is the feeling that we have to internalize and never let go. Once we figure out what we did to accomplish this, we need to keep that feeling and that will continue to be on cloud nine. No matter what our own journey is, we know we have made it and no one can take that away. Keep your head held high and believe in what you do. So no matter what, be a “Betty.” Push on, never look back, and embrace the awesome future!