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Lauren Cooke Headshot

My Relationship With 'Glee'

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GLEE SCENE LEA MICHELE
Ray Tamarra via Getty Images

Once I heard "Don't Stop Believing" on my TV, I was hooked. I didn't even know what the exact premise of the show was; I just had to see it. At that time I was on the edge of turning 13, my parents thought it would be a little too inappropriate for me but I convinced them with sheer stubbornness that they couldn't stop me from watching. Little did I know on that day, May 18, 2009, the new show Glee would begin to change my life.

Now fast-forward five years to present day, and I'm counting down my days as a high school senior along with Season 5 of the now "hit show/pop culture phenomenon," Glee. For these past several years, Glee has been my support system, teacher and encourager. This show taught me that it was okay to be myself and that trying is always worth it, even if you fail. Learning that lesson before I entered high school was a game-changer. There is not a doubt in my mind that I wouldn't have come out of my shell without Glee. It gave me the confidence to join my high school newspaper midway from my freshman year, and see it through. Glee was not only part of the reason I have seen just about every show my school has put on, but what caused me to decide to take up dancing during my senior year.

Glee also opened me up to accepting anyone and everyone. Before, I don't recall noticing any gay couples. Now, looking back, maybe I chose to ignore it. After seeing Kurt come out and then Kurt and Blaine and Santana and Brittany, I realized that sexuality doesn't need to be a big deal, people love who they love. I also learned that everyone deserves to be accepted, not just tolerated. Then came the lessons in perseverance from all the members: Quinn going to Yale, Rachel landing a Broadway role, Santana earning the understudy role, Kurt working for Vogue and getting into NYADA, Mercedes making it big in L.A., Puck going into the Air Force and finally Finn starting his career as a teacher. They may not have all been exactly realistic, but all these characters demonstrated that you can succeed and you can overcome obstacles and bounce back.

As one can hopefully tell, this show means the world to me. Because of this, when the actor who played Finn Hudson, Cory Monteith, passed away this past July, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt like I lost a family member, and in a way he was. Like Kurt did in the show, I choose to look past how he died and instead focus on how he and his portrayal of Finn changed me for the better. After a lot of thinking about this, I realized Finn and Cory are both my role models. The amount of perseverance, acceptance, love, kindness and hope they showed in their lives is inspiring and I hope one day I can have that. When it came time to pick a senior quote for the yearbook, it only seemed appropriate to choose one by Finn. A few weeks ago, I decided on one of Finn's lines from "A Night of Neglect" (Season 2, Episode 17), "the show must go... all over the place... or something." This line embodies everything that Glee taught me over the last five years: Never give up.