WORDS by Trelby O'Connor

Angela Chase just gets it. This character articulates exactly what it’s like to be an introspective teenage girl. this show totally understood how to identify with young people, as well as the families and communities that play a role in the process of adolescence.

Angela comments on everything from trivial annoyances of the school cafeteria, to the soul crushing experience of being madly in love with a pretty boy who won’t give you the time of day. Angela didn’t necessarily always have the answers to teenage tribulations, but that’s what made her real. She was flawed and looked maybe a little too deeply into some things, but she truly illustrated what teenage hood felt like.

You might have a different take on the best spirit guide moments of Angela Chase, but these are the times she made me think "wow that’s exactly what it’s like"

1. When she finds herself in between various friendships

"What I like, dread, is when people who know you in completely different ways end up in the same area. And you have to develop this, like, combination you on the spot.”

This Angela moment really speaks to me because I’ve never been the type of person to have one big group of friends, but rather a few little groups here and there. It made for a varied and insightful social life and I could connect with my friends on a deeper level because we would hang out one on one or in small groups. However, it can be a bit awkward when your childhood friends meet your thrill seeking friends and you’re left in the middle trying to communicate with everyone equally.

2. When there was a rumour about her having sex in Jordan Catalano’s car

"I just think people want to believe things about people and so they decide certain things are true, and they don't even ask. It's not fair.”

High school is like an open cesspool for gossip. Everyone’s crammed into a space while our hormones are adjusting and we have nothing more exciting to talk about than our immediate social worlds. People like to tell you not worry about what others are saying about you. But I can affirm that as a fifteen year old girl I was very concerned about what people were saying about me. You look back and scoff at what mortified you in high school, but at the time, having the whole grade talk about a sexual act that you may or may not have done is one of the most helpless things to go through.

3. When she quits Year Book because it’s a lie

“And I mean this whole thing with yearbook, it's like ... if you made a book of what really happened, it'd be a really upsetting book.”

This was great. One of those iconic Angela moments that makes me wish we were best friends. I never had a ‘Year Book’ in high school, however, I do remember there being quite an effort to emphasise how much fun being young is. Often on school open days there would be slideshows and staged photos plastered around the school showcasing what a happy place high school is. It definitely wasn’t all angst and hatred but it sure wasn’t as cheery as the school brochures conveyed. And that can really fire you up. Knowing how much everyone is trying to sugarcoat something that can be so crushing.

4. When she feels completely and utterly inadequate

“Sometimes it seems like we’re all living in some kind of prison. And the crime is how much we hate ourselves. It’s good to get really dressed up once in a while. And admit the truth: that when you really look closely? People are so strange and so complicated that they’re actually… beautiful. Possibly even me.”

Angela’s friends appear on a list rating the sophomore girls, and Angela gets a pimple. This one is pretty universal and It’s definitely not just a high schooler anxiety, because I struggle with it still everyday. Feeling physically inadequate is so consuming because you’re constantly comparing yourself to your peers and covergirls, which makes you feel like your body is suppose to be a certain way. Self confidence is such an unfixed thing. You can feel great about yourself one day and then convince yourself you’re nothing special the next day. Angela’s closing narration for this episode makes you realise the importance of beauty beyond exteriors though. 

5. When she is unsure of herself

“This life has been a test. If this had been an actual life, you would have received instructions on where to go and what to do.”

Yep, it’s true. There is no instruction manual for life and there is certainly is no instruction manual for boys. Although late 2000s teens may have the advantage of googling their love conundrums, it’s still hard to know what what a boy is thinking when he’s giving you those hot and cold signals. As frustrating as it is, it kind of makes life interesting. You learn about yourself when you take the plunge, maybe make some mistakes or have to rely on your gut feeling. I may not have known how to deal with my fifteen year old crush, but I sure did learn a lot about boys by fumbling around and making an attempt. I’ve got to hand it to Angela, she really puts herself out there with Jordan, quite often for not a lot in return.

6. When she distributes the Liberty Lit

“You said I needed to decide what to fight for. I decided. I just think it's wrong to censor people, and I'm willing to get suspended for it.”

Sometimes people come into our lives and totally change how we see the world. They ignite something within us that makes us question things, demand change and ultimately live more truthfully. Angela’s substitute teacher Mr. Racine was this person for her. Although he did turn out to be a bit of a phony. He was the first teacher to properly notice Jordan couldn’t read and made the students actually want to turn up to English. When Angela prints the ‘Liberty Lit’ at the possible cost of suspension she really proved to be so much more than an introspective teenage girl with a crush. She had passions and morals that she fought hard to maintain despite being criticized by her parents and principal. Still waiting for my ‘Angela Chase fighting the power’ moment, but I’m sure it will come one day.

7. When her life suddenly figured out how to get good

“What’s amazing is when you can feel your life going somewhere. Like, your life just figured out how to get good. Like, that second.”

I think about this exact scene every time my life is giving me something I’ve wanted for a long time. It might be finally making out with a boy I’ve liked for a while or getting a call back for a job I applied for. One thing ‘My So Called Life’ was really good at expressing was how uneventful and frustratingly non-momentous teenage life can be. So when something amazing does happen, it’s a big deal, you like take a mental note of how great it is. I absolutely loved how even though Angela finally got to kiss Jordan Catalano, she still called him out for being too forward. That was a great lesson for any girl starting to get attention from boys. Just because he’s finally interested doesn’t mean you allow him to treat you like crap.

8. When she perfectly sums up what being self-content is

“People are always saying you should be yourself, like yourself is this definite thing, like a toaster. Like you know what it is even. But every so often I'll have, like, a moment, where just being myself in my life right where I am is, like, enough.”

This is by far my favourite Angela Chase quote. It makes complete sense to me. I remember feeling so patronised as a young teenager when I saw magazines telling me to ‘Be Yourself’ or the message of a movie being ‘Happiness is being who you really are’. Like what? What does that actually mean? When you’re figuring yourself out it’s like there’s so many different channels of yourself and you never really know which is the truest or the one you should listen to. What’s even better than ‘being yourself’ is having moments of bliss where you’re not trying too hard to be anything. You just are. I always think of Angela riding her bike when I’m having these moments.

What Angela Chase quote do you identify with most?

WORDS BY:  Trelby O'Connor

Trelby is an animal loving soul who believes in the magical healing powers of nature walks with loved ones. She is currently absorbing information on all things art and culture at university. She also loves a bit of vegan cooking, op shopping and makeup artistry to feed her creative tendencies.