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‘Steven Universe’s’ goodbye message: Let yourself feel emotions

Warning: This article may contain spoilers. 

I fell in love with “Steven Universe” like everyone else on Tumblr. From college life to young adulthood, I kept the show close to my heart and my watch list. I wanted to own a cheeseburger backpack, wondered what a cookie cat tasted like and found the show itself filled with life lessons. 

One of them is this quote: If every pork chop were perfect, there wouldn’t be hotdogs. It’s their version of “if life gives you lemons,” but more realistic. 

If you’re not a Tumblr urchin like me, let me give you a quick background. It’s a Cartoon Network original run by “Adventure Time” alumni Rebecca Sugar. The animated series follows Steven, a young boy with a magical bellybutton, learning to save the world with his mystical alien godparents—The Crystal Gems.

After all, the heart of the show is acceptance and love, and it ended with that. 

Like Sugar’s previous show, “Steven Universe” is naturally lighthearted. It’s not as dark as “Adventure Time” (which is a totally different monster), but it’s never afraid to talk about topics we often avoid with children. Like abandonment, the LGBTQ+ community, genocide, trauma and much, much more. 

Throughout the years, it garnered a huge fanbase. Children and adults alike found themselves represented through the show. Although it eventually got a bad rep due to its huge yet toxic fanbase (FYI: Vulture named it as one of the worst fanbases), the show’s message of acceptance and love still reigned supreme. 

And sadly on Mar. 27, the show bid goodbye for good. It’s hard to see all of “Adventure Time’s” contemporaries finally come to an end. But it did leave us with this message: We need to stop fearing emotions. 

The show ran for eight years. Out of all the 174 episodes, the finale was the most intense. There were theories in which Steven would turn into a dark version of himself—an evil gem. But the finale was not what theorist fans expected. After all, the heart of the show is acceptance and love, and it ended with that. 

“Steven Universe’s” last episodes showed the protagonist going off the rails. Every waking moment of his life, Steven dealt with depression and anxiety. His life wasn’t about saving the world anymore. He lacked purpose, while his loved ones and support system had plans of their own that didn’t exactly include him. 

For the first time ever, Steven didn’t have a magical prophecy. The adventure is over and his life is his own. It’s just that he didn’t know what to do with it. 

During a misguided attempt to find stability, he proposed to his best friend and girlfriend Connie. She was going to college to follow her dreams. And Steven tried to stop it by asking her to settle down with him. But after she rejected his proposal, he only spiraled further.

He ran and he ran and he ran away from his feelings. The last episode chronicled what happened after he stopped running away. 

His support system intervened. He refused to give in and vent even though they were reaching out to him. Unable to take the emotional stress, he turned into a monster—a literal pink monster. They tried to fight him, resorting to violence and shouting questions at him to figure out what was going on. 

“Steven Universe’s” story may have ended, but it left us with an important message: Allow ourselves to feel and to heal.

What stopped him wasn’t The Crystal Gems’ or The Diamonds’ extraterrestrial powers. It was a simple act of love—a hug. 

Eventually, Steven shrunk into his normal size. He went into a fetal position and sobbed his heart out. There were no reprimands from his loved ones, no one scolded anyone. They just sat there as he let everything out: the hurt, the shame and everything in between. No one judged his actions. The only thing they gave him was support. 

If every pork chop were perfect, there wouldn’t be hotdogs. This has been my favorite quote for so long and there’s a reason behind that. It is one of the recurring lessons of this show and they ended “Steven Universe” with this message.

Read more: A eulogy to “Adventure Time,” and why it’ll never die

So what does it mean? Life is never perfect or what we wished it to be. The pain, the sorrow and ups and downs are horrible. Not every scar has a lesson. Although, when it does carry a lesson, it makes us stronger. We may not be where we wish we could be, but it takes us to where we need to be at that moment. 

“Steven Universe’s” story may have ended, but it left us with an important message: Allow ourselves to feel and to heal.

There’s no skip button to emotional growth. If we want to grow, we have to feel and acknowledge the pain. And vulnerability is the first step to becoming who we need to be.

Still from “Steven Universe: Future”

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Rogin Losa
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