In the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, Cristina Yang once said: “He’s not the sun, you are.” She is fierce, ambitious, and for better or worse, exceptionally opinionated. But perhaps one of her greatest strengths is knowing who she is and what she wants. The one compass that guides her through life is her integrity.
Cristina’s greatest love doesn’t lie in a relationship with a man but in her career ambition and friendship with protagonist Meredith Grey. Gen Z young adults appreciate Cristina’s character precisely because she’s unapologetic about her choices. She has two abortions and one failed marriage (two, if we count jilting Burke at the altar).
While Cristina is perceived as a fiercely independent woman in fiction, in the real world she would be deemed a failure by the prevailing dating standards of her own time and culture.
If she had been born as a Gen Z, she would have learned the unwritten rules of dating:
- Have innocent crushes during kindergarten and elementary school.
- Have your first kiss by the time you’re 13 years old.
- Have your first love in high school and romantically lose your virginity. Yes, exactly, romantically.
- In college, either establish meaningful relationships with your soulmates or have meaningless sex with strangers. Good luck!
- Welcome to your 30s, the finish line of dating: settle down, create a family, and live happily ever after.
If Cristina doesn’t achieve these milestones at the exact time she’s supposed to, the message from her culture is that she’s inherently flawed.
Cristina’s sense of self might then negatively impact her relationships, especially the one with herself. She might then turn to alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of not being enough for society and completely isolate herself. She could, in other words, self-sabotage for not being able to please the patriarchal system that came into this world long before she did.
But Cristina Yang knows something that Gen Z can learn: “Being a hero has its price.” The price to pay is that acting on your integrity means society will try its best to shame you if you’re playing by your own rules. Unfortunately, that can include some family members and friends conditioned by the same system. The good news is that the freedom of following your own path and the infinite potential life has to offer, is exhilarating. You could take life less seriously and more playfully.
Finally, you could be your own unapologetic sun knowing that people’s opinions are mere temporary clouds that cross your path.