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Fear prevents us from letting go of something that makes us bitter. Fear of losing someone else or of being inadequate makes us jealous. Fear is something that threatens to tear apart the friendship of four middle school boys and a mysterious telekinetic girl in Stranger Things.
Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will have been friends for years. They go to school together in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. In their free time, they love experimenting with science-projects and playing Dungeons and Dragons. They’ve had years of experience in cultivating friendships. On the other side of the scale, Eleven has lived in near isolation her entire life, never knowing what having a friend feels like. She has only experienced abuse under scientists in a top secret government lab.
When Will disappears, the boys unite to save their friend. However, after El escapes the lab and comes into their lives, the boys’ friendship is shaken by fear of who or what she is. But Mike wants Eleven to be accepted into the group. He teaches her in the best way he can how to be a friend.
Eleven hurts their fragile friendship because she is afraid of telling the boys the truth about the origins of the Demogorgon and of herself. Lucas becomes jealous of Mike when he sees that Mike is paying more attention to Eleven than him. This fear strains their friendship.
I’ve definitely experienced fear like this in my relationships. I don’t have many friends because I struggle with being vulnerable. I’ve always been afraid of saying the wrong thing that would finally chase them away, of sharing secrets or feelings with them. Scared I will ruin a friendship, I’ve withdrawn, and in doing so I’ve hurt the relationship more.
Like Mike says, “Friends don’t lie.”
The antidote to my fear is trust. Trusting someone with the things that scare you bonds you closer to them than ever before. It isn’t until the boys are finally honest with each other that the wounds they’ve inflicted begin to mend.
Eleven experiences this when she finally decides to entrust the boys with her secrets about where she lived, her powers, the Upside Down, and the Demogorgon. When Dustin helps Mike diagnose Lucas’s fear the boys apologize to each other and manage to move on from their hurt feelings. The product of this resolution is becoming united even stronger than they were before. When friendships survive adversity then they become lasting friendships.
In the past few years, I’ve resolved to be honest with my friends and talk to them about my problems, even if it’s hard. I believe this has strengthened my relationships with them exponentially. It’s good to have people close enough to you that you feel like you don’t have to hold back. It’s good to have friends that you know won’t desert you even when you go through trials that make you feel like a different person.
One of my favorite things about Stranger Things is the example of enduring friendships, ones that go through trials. Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Eleven discovered elements of friendship I wish I knew about when I was their age. Though trials will always arise, such is life, and like the Demogorgon, fear in relationships can be vanquished.