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September 7 2019
Hunter Schafer (left) and Zendaya in Euphoria.

There was one thought that came to mind as I watched every episode of Euphoria this summer. (Well, one thought besides Whoa, this looks really beautiful, but is definitely gratuitous and also making me nauseous.) It was: How do these teenagers, albeit fictionalized, have more confidence than I do at 25 years old? The HBO series, adapted from an Israeli show, follows a group of deeply troubled adolescents struggling with sex, drugs, and gender.

What makes Euphoria (an intentionally hyper-realized show) so unreal to me isn’t the neon pink lights in every room, or the whip pans in every scene; it’s that paralyzing insecurity, usually as prevalent among teens as lying, backstabbing, and breathing, is almost nonexistent in this high school. I was under the impression that it’s biologically impossible for an adolescent to conjure a mind-set of “feeling oneself.” That it’s a legal obligation for teens to feel awkward and ugly, even the most loved and beautiful ones. But I guess Gen Z knows they’re hot and aren’t afraid to admit it. The teens in Euphoria are constantly gyrating their bodies and rubbing their hands up and around their breasts and into their hair.

Alexa Demie (left) and Barbie Ferreira stalking the high-school hallway in Euphoria.

Once, when I was in high school, “Get Low” started playing and I hid under a table so no one would pull me into the grinding line. The reason behind the characters’ confidence, I’m sure, has something to do with the fact that confidence is sexy and that weirdness and discomfort are not. I realize that insecurity presents itself in many forms, but there is a complete lack of fear and shame behind their actions. And although the show explores many of the miseries of being a teen, truly the most miserable thing about being a young person is that you feel uncomfortable in the skin you’re in. That’s why all people in their 30s say it’s a hundred times better than their 20s were, because it isn’t until your 30s that you are finally confident enough about yourself and your body to be O.K. with them.

Constantly gyrating their bodies and rubbing their hands up and around their breasts and into their hair.

The teens in Euphoria are more confident than I will ever be at 30 if I don’t make the immediate changes necessary. And so, as the episodes went on and I watched their confidence grow even more, I thought, Hey, there might be something I can learn from these abnormally calm and collected kids. I don’t even care about achieving 30s confidence anymore; I want teenage, Euphoria-level confidence.

So, how do I go about implementing these characters’ self-assurance into my own life? I needed to look at how they move through various situations versus how I do.

Lessons Learned

At first, I’ll admit, mapping out how much more confident these teens are than I am made me feel even less confident than I did already. But then I had an epiphany: the Euphoria “teens” have actually made me feel more confident just by their existence. The “risks” I would be too afraid to take seem far less daunting now, like wearing winged eyeliner or a dress to dinner. There’s no reason for me to be self-conscious about normal things anymore when there are kids in Euphoria walking into school like it’s the Electric Daisy Carnival, not even Coachella. The show’s goal and tagline is that you “feel something,” and “feel something” I sure did. So if you happen to see me having sex in a pool at a party, you’ll know why.

Cazzie David is an actress and writer based in Los Angeles