As we head into the 8th hidden message found within the 13 Reasons Why message, it’s important to remember why I’m writing these in the first place. Read my intro to 13 tapes and continue onto the next.
Tape 8: You Have to Do What Everyone Else Wants
There’s no denying that peer pressure is predominant in high school. Your peers are constantly pressuring you to do things and half the time, you don’t even realize you’re a victim. People encourage you to wear certain clothes, go to different parties, do certain things, skip class, cheat on a test – the list goes on and on. It’s all a part of the high school experience – a crappy part – but a part, nonetheless.
As such, the 13 Reasons Why message has a lot of peer pressure hidden in between the lines and it’s something we can all learn something from.
If you don’t do what the dead person wants, you’re a bad person
The first thing I want to discuss about this secret hidden in the 13 Reasons Why message is the fact that every kid is peer pressured into listening to the tape. By whom? By someone who has died from suicide, and of course, by everyone else on the tape for fear of their secret getting out. But this message says something; it says that if you don’t do what a dead person wants, you’re a bad person and an even worse friend.
The students left behind after a suicide feel pressured into doing everything the dead person wants. It may be going to their funeral or doing a charity walk, setting up a memorabilia, joining a Facebook Page – whatever it is, you don’t have to do anything. more importantly, no one should pressure you into doing something you don’t feel is right for you.
There’s a prime example of this in Thirteen Reasons Why. Although Clay doesn’t want to continue to tapes and see how deeply it’s affecting his emotional and mental state, he is forced to. By whom? By his friend who committed suicide.
When Hannah committed suicide and left the tapes, Clay gets a huge weight put on his shoulders. He feels obligated to make his friend happy in her death because he didn’t make her happy when she was alive. He is peer pressured by the suicide, which leads me into the next topic.
You can’t control people’s lives once you’ve committed suicide
Suicide is a final answer. You can’t commit suicide and continue to dictate to your peers. You don’t have a right to fear people into doing what you want – dead or alive – especially if you’ve left this earth. Suicide isn’t a temporary solution where you get to die but still seek revenge and make your peers feel your pain. You have no control once you’re gone.
You are still living and you have to do what is right for you
While it’s awful for anyone to commit suicide, you also have to remind yourself that you are still living. For who? You have to live for you and you have to do what’s right for you. If that’s not listening to the tapes, then Clay should have been able to do that without the pressure from his late friend and peers. Maybe you don’t want to read your friend’s suicide note, attend their funeral, or visit their grave. You have that choice. Everyone grieves differently and it’s not fair for someone to feel bad because they aren’t doing what the dead person wants or what everyone else is doing.
Peer pressure to do what everyone else wants you to do to move on
Having a peer commit suicide takes a toll on the entire school; even more so for those who were friends with the person. Like any death, there comes a time when you just want to get back to normal life. You are desperate to stop crying and to just move on.
Throughout the 13 Reasons Why message, the students all pressure Clay to finish the tapes so everyone can move on and resume their lives. But Clay – and everyone else – has a right to deal with the death in their own way. No one should pressure anyone to move on or to get over the death of someone they knew. In fact, no one has the right to push someone to do something they don’t want to do. It’s inhumane and it needs to stop.
You’re never going to escape peer pressure
The 13 Reasons Why message subliminally teaches its audience that you’ll never escape peer pressure. What’s worse is it says that the only way to get bullies off of your back is to do what they want. To some extent, this is true. You won’t ever escape peer pressure because it’s everywhere; it’s on every billboard, every commercial, every social media platform, etc. However, you don’t have to do what everyone else wants just to get people to leave you alone. You have a voice. Use it. Reach out to a teacher or parent and tell them what’s going on. Bullies will stop; you just have to reach out to the right person.
And doing what people are bullying you into doing isn’t going to get them to leave you alone anyway. It’s just going to show them that you’re weak and vulnerable, and that you can control them.
I always say, ‘High school is four years of your life – just four years and it’s over.’ This is important to remember as you navigate through this secret found within the 13 Reasons Why message. People can pressure you to do all kinds of things but at the end of the day, you have the rest of your life ahead of you. You can’t make decisions because someone bullied you into doing them. Your actions during these four years will determine your future, so stand up for yourself. Do what’s right for you and don’t waste your future because of four years of high school. The people who are pressuring you are the same people you will likely never speak to again once you’re done high school. So, don’t make a decision based on someone else’s needs or opinions.
This is your life.
If you or someone you know is suffering, please contact the Canadian National Suicide Helpline.