There’s one theme in Steven Universe that’s been in front of us this entire time that I’ve never seen discussed. It’s what happens when our plans fail. It’s been discussed with individual characters, but never as a broader theme.
More importantly what happens when our lives don’t turn out the way we expected them to. Whether it’s something as “simple” as not fitting into an assigned role, literally being banished or left behind; or something as grandiose as rebelling against everything you ever knew– because you had to, or in the name of love, in any and all its multifaceted forms.
Every single character has ‘where they were’ and ‘what happened after IT happened’. Most poignantly:
Pearl: Living her life and soul for Rose Quartz and the rebellion.
“You just think about the life you’ll have together after the war!”
Do it for him
Garnet: Or rather Ruby and Sapphire living their lives exactly in the roles that had been given to them.
Until they created something entirely new.
“Why am I so sure that I’d rather be this than everything I was supposed to be, and that I’d rather do this than anything I was supposed to do?”
Peridot: Again, just doing her job. She failed, through no fault of her own. It happens.
And then she learned. She really, really learned. To see the bigger picture, to expand her world beyond the narrow role she had always known, to actually care about others. She’s still learning, but…
“I have something different now.”
And tonight, Lapis: We don’t know why she was sent to earth, but clearly the war was chaotic. Poof first, ask questions later. Get trapped in an object without a voice and left behind. When you’re finally rediscovered, those who find you have no idea you’re still you in there. Break free only to find you can’t go home again. Lash out at the perceived cause/threat, literally trapped in an incredibly intimate yet equally toxic relationship. Lose sight of the fact that two wrongs don’t make a right. Long for freedom with every atom of your being, while simultaneously having no idea what to do with it once you have it. Nothing has gone the way it should have for literally thousands of years. Nothing at all.
“Did you even wonder who I use to be?”
“I want to see it. I want to stay here.”
And that’s what it comes down to. It’s not failure. It’s no settling. So often things beyond our control take our lives places we never imagined they would go, for better or worse.
No matter how much we think we know what’s going to happen in the future, sometimes we just don’t. Our best laid plans can go flying out the window, and our lives can do a 180 in an instant. That doesn’t make our lives from then on out any less valid, it doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. It’s different, but its yours.
Keep your head up and move forward. It may not be easy, but chances are it’ll turn out okay. Open your heart and your mind, and give it time. Even Gems that are literally thousands of years old are learning this one day at a time. Just like the rest of us.