This makes us feel old: 8 years ago, Hannah Montana premiered and introduced the world to Miley Stewart, a perfectly ordinary high school student who was secretly a famous pop star. Of course, since this is the Disney Channel, Miley's secret career was nowhere near as controversial as that of her real life actress, but trying to balance fame and fortune with school, boys, and friends was a challenge. Despite the fact that none of her viewers could really relate to putting on a blond wig and strutting out on a stage in front of millions of people, when Miley took off the wig and transformed back into the youngest Stewart child, when she was being scolded by her father and teased by her brother, she became a symbol of who we all are and made Hannah a symbol of who we all could be.
If your brain crashed and burned back at the part where I said "8 years ago", don't worry. You're not alone. The reactions to the news that today is the 8 year anniversary of Hannah Montana is being met with shock, awe, and nostalgia all over the internet. This is especially true on Twitter, where #8YearsofHannahMontana has been trending in the United States all day. Tweets range from people sobbing into their hands at the fond memory of childhood and people staring open-mouthed at the screen because surely they can't be so old that Hannah Montana was a thing 8 whole years ago?
In honor of Hannah's 8 year anniversary, it's about time we reflect on some lessons that we learned along with Miley Stewart, or because of her, or sometimes even in spite of her.
1. Good Friends Make Everything Worth It
In the pilot, Miley's double life was put in jeopardy when her best friend Lilly Truscott, played by Emily Osment, tried to get her to attend a concert that she would, in fact, be performing at. Lilly subsequently became the first person outside of Miley's family to learn of her secret and, with the eventual aid of their other friend Oliver Oken (Mitchel Musso), they would spend the rest of the next four seasons protecting that secret at all cost. No matter what high or low Miley was going through, Lilly and Oliver were there for her through thick and thin. You don't have to be juggling two lives in order to appreciate the fact that having solid friends at your back can get you through anything.
2. Blood is Thicker (And More Annoying) Than Water
In season 3, after another argument between Miley and her brother Jackson ends with him accidentally hitting his head and then tricking her into thinking he got temporary amnesia so she would appreciate him more. What? You mean all families don't go through that exact same thing? Well, the overriding message was that family is there to annoy you and exasperate you and love you no matter what you do or say. Through all the hijinks and schemes, the love of her father and her brother helped keep Miley grounded and provided some of the most touching moments of the show, teaching us not to take our own families for granted.
3. Be Yourself, Whoever That Is
Yes, I know the entire premise of the show is that a teenage girl lies to the world and who she really is. Do you remember knowing exactly who you were as a teenage girl? Do you know exactly who you are now? Throughout the series, Miley struggled with the question of which side of her was her. Was she Miley Stewart? Was she Hannah Montana? Was she schizophrenic? Watching Miley struggle to define herself and reconcile her two lives was perhaps the most relatable part of the show and as she finally grew the confidence to be herself, no matter who that was or how hard it was, so did her viewers.
In the aftermath of Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus is still teaching us all to be ourselves, but we all heard the message 8 years ago from the words and actions of insecure, inspirational Miley Stewart.