As a kid growing up in Jamaica Queens, I was immediately dubbed an outsider.
No matter how hard I tried to assimilate with the kids at school, I never got around to actually fitting in. I was constantly bullied for being different and would always bury myself in art and books. Hence why I became an artist.
But growing up as an outsider is one of the most lonesome experiences one could ever have. If you couldn’t be yourself in school or at home, then where do you belong? And in a moment of self-exploration, that’s when I found Daria Morgendorffer.
Daria Morgendorffer is the fictional character of the animated MTV series Daria, which debuted on March 3, 1997. The main focus of the show was about a young, intelligent, sarcastic teenage girl and her high school experience.
Daria was smart and unapologetically blunt. She wore thick glasses, black boots, read Edgar Allan Poe, and loved pizza. But most importantly, she was an outsider who saw the world for what it was. She was my hero.
So when I recently learned that MTV is going to reboot the series, I was over the moon excited! Although the show only had five seasons, it developed a cult following of fans who saw the world the same way as Daria did: filled with people who were afraid to be different.
Therefore in honor of my hero, here are a few lessons/tips from Daria that will help you stay true to YOU and your work:
Don’t Bend To Society:
Daria is constantly harassed by her family and school staff to smile more, engage more with her peers, and be more pleasant. Instead, she replies back with a cynical remark and stands her ground. Daria refuses to conform and has an understanding of what it means to stand your ground.
As an artist, we beat our own drum and create a world in which WE feel comfortable. In a world filled with people desperate for acceptance, it’s always best to be true to who are then tend to the masses. In short: just be you!
Stand up for what YOU believe in:
In a Season 1 episode, Daria and best friend Jane Lane create a painting about “Student Life At The Dawn Of The Millennium”. The art piece includes a statement about young women turning to anorexia for the sake of staying thin and becoming popular. The school staff takes the painting and enters it to a local art contest…but remove the statement and replaces it with something that was “more positive” without Daria or Jane’s consent.
Unable to remove the painting (and their names) from the contest, Daria and Jane decided to deface the painting instead. We all have something we believe in especially when it comes to our artwork. Never stray from your message and don’t be afraid to make sure your voice is heard – even if that means defacing your own work!
Speak your truth:
Daria never shy’s away from telling the truth. The show demonstrated episodes from corporations trying to make money from the youth culture to segregation in suburban schools. Although her fellow peers see these incidences, Daria is the only one who speaks up and surprisingly…they listen.
She is unafraid to be daring and reveal the underlying truth about the world around her which is the mission of every artist. It is our responsibility to break down barriers and bring people closer together through our work. It can be hard to reveal the truth around us when everyone is accustomed to putting their head down and follow the crowd.
But never forget that your work has value, your work matters, and it is important to speak your truth.
I cannot wait to see what the reboot looks like I hope that it will be as incredible as when it first hit the television scene. Thanks for all the amazing wisdom Daria! Also if you are interested in seeing this awesome show, you can now watch it on Hulu.
Now it’s your turn: Are you a Daria fan? Do these lessons resonate with you and your work? How can you use these lessons and apply it to your every day life? Leave a comment below and let me know. Also if you like this post, don’t be shy! Share it with your friends and spread the word!
Til next time,