7 Lessons from Orange is the New Black

A Look at the Lessons We’ve Learned from Orange is the New Black

Lessons from Orange is the New Black
Today, Netflix releases the much-anticipated second season of their hit comedic drama Orange is the New Black. In a snapshot, the show fictionalizes the real-life tale of Piper Chapman, a white, middle-class woman, sentenced to 15 months in prison for her assisting her ex-girlfriend in international drug trafficking. If you haven’t yet caught season 1, we highly recommend you jump on the bandwagon.

As much as we love OITNB for its cast of outrageous characters and their snappy one-liners, we’ve also come to appreciate the depth the writers have given to their back stories. We learn what has brought each of these women to prison and watch as their lives and relationships unfold within their new confined realities. With each episode we get to know the characters a little better and grow to understands what motivates their behaviors and actions.

In getting to know these characters we’ve also recognized that there is a great deal they can teach us about our own choices. Here we take a look at 7 lessons we’ve learned from Orange is the New Black and how they apply to our lives outside the prison walls.

1. Own Your Mistakes and Where They’ve Brought You

When things don’t go our way, it’s easy to look around for someone to blame. We’re quick to point the finger of fault at anyone but ourselves. When Piper is incarcerated she unloads her burden on Alex, her ex-lover and drug smuggling partner in crime.  The truth is however, that the decision to join Alex in her schemes was on no one but Piper. Remember that you’re responsible for the actions you choose to take and whatever consequences they may produce.

2. Fight For What You Want

You’re not always going to get handed the things you want. However, for the things that truly matter, don’t give into “No” without giving it the best fight you’ve got. In Season 1 we watch Crazy Eyes pursue Piper with a relentless passion. While Piper never caves to her request, Crazy Eyes never gives up her pursuit. In the end she may not have made a girlfriend of Piper but she did make an ally. When something deeply matters to you, don’t take “No” as your final answer. Even if you don’t get exactly what you’re after you’ll land a lot closer than if you stopped the fight.

3. Make Allies 

Speaking of allies….make them. Ever heard the saying it’s not what you know it’s who you know? You’ll get a lot further in life if you’ve got the right people on your side. The women in OITNB know this better than anybody. Their alliances are key to their survival and ability to deal with life inside the prison walls. Similarly, your personal and professional alliances are key to having doors opened, barriers removed, and opportunities made available to you. Seek out and nurture these relationships.

4. Don’t Let Fantasy Get in the Way of Reality

There are two worlds we live in– our fantasies and our realities. Our fantasy lives give us hope for the future and what could be. Our real lives keep us grounded in our present truths. We watch Morello hang on to the idea of marrying her fiance when she is released from prison. She is stuck fantasizing about their wedding and the perfect lives they will share. On one hand this gives her strength to make it through each day. On the other hand, it distracts her from recognizing the love that Nikki is trying to give to her. There is always going to be a balance between our hopes and our realities. Check in and make sure that you’ve got a handle on both.

5. Know Who Your Real Family Is

There is an old saying that blood is thicker than water but I would argue that isn’t always the case. We’re often pulled away from our real families — by choice or by circumstance– and find that we need to create new ones. In the prison Red serves as the resident mother for the women. She takes them under her wing and offers them protection when they’ve got no one else who can. Even the most unlikely of friends can become your closet family. Don’t be afraid to let serve in that capacity for you and likewise, know that someone may need you to reciprocate the love to them.

6. Remember Your Priorities

Life can be a whirlwind. When chaos strikes it can be easy to get lost in it and to lose a sense of what’s important.  On one of her calls with her fiance Larry, she talks about how excited she is for the chance to win a Twix bar. While we agree that chocolate makes everything better, what we see is Piper losing a real sense of what’s important in life. Rather than focusing on Larry and how he’s doing, she’s wrapped up in the prison politics. Don’t succumb to the small things that threaten to steal your attention. Remember your priorities.

7. Stay True to You

I think the greatest lesson of all that we learn from this show is the importance of staying true to yourself. Despite being imprisoned, stripped of their belongings, their family and friends, and their lives, we see the women hold on to who they were before they were put behind bars. Sophia running a makeshift hair salon, Yoga Jones guiding a daily practice, and Red running the kitchen are all examples of how these women have held on to their former selves. No matter where life takes you, stay true to you, and you’ll be a better person for it.


Superbly Single,



Are you a fan of the show? Comment below or tweet us @SingleDiariesXO and tell us what you’re most looking forward to in Season 2!

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