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I grew up watching the beloved cartoon series Spongebob Squarepants. I think most young adults who watched the show can agree that when they were a kid, Spongebob Squarepants was their spirit animal, or more specifically, their spirit sea sponge. At the same time, they also felt Squidward Tentacles was the grumpy next door neighbor who ruined all the fun. Re-watching the show in my 20s, I realize a lot has changed and, in fact, Squidward is a perfect representation of my confusing young adult life.
Squidward is quite literally a squid who lives next door to Spongebob and complains about his neighbor’s annoying excitement, overly positive attitude, and genuine interest in his life. I realize now if I lived next to a bubbly sponge who enjoyed waking me up from my regular adult naps and Netflix binges, I would be aggravated too. To expand on this even more, the two sea characters also work together at the Krusty Krab which is evidently a very basic, fast food burger joint. Squidward specifically works as the cashier. His life is a cashier at a fast food restaurant. Most of us have worked some part-time job whether it be at a chain restaurant or retail store and we all know the miserable, minimum wage life far too well. So, if I was spending my days working at McDonalds, I wouldn’t want the fry chef popping his head out to sing a song to me every time a burger was ready. I wouldn’t want that same fry chef asking me why I’m not smiling and loving every second at this deadbeat job. I realize now Squidward did have a lot to complain about and although as a six-year-old I was on Spongebob’s side, today I have grown into a real-life Squidward and I have to accept this new lifestyle.
As a Squidward, I too would complain about my job every second, sleep in the bathroom during my shifts, and wish customers would knock me over the head with a baseball bat rather than tell me they want eight different items removed from their sandwich. Also, like the animated squid, I feel I am an undiscovered talent. Squidward partakes in playing the Clarinet, but feels he never gets the recognition he deserves for it. I, as a human, run a Tumblr account with over 1k followers and don’t feel I get the correct recognition either.
Next, Squidward can be seen as a bit of a narcissist when he’s seen clipping together a hedge sculpture of himself for his front lawn or painting countless self-portraits of himself in his house. The modern day, above-water equivalent of this is called iPhone selfies. The artistry comes in with an app called facetune, along with applying a filter on Instagram before posting the photo onto the World Wide Web. So, we are all a little conceited, but Squidward didn’t have the luxury of a smartphone, so he had to make do with more intricate means.
Lastly, the strongest way I relate to Squidward is the ways in which he actually complains. If you revisit the show or simply the memes online, you will find him delivering memorable quotes such as: “I hate all of you,” “Too bad that didn’t kill me,” “I knew I shouldn’t have gotten out of bed today,” “If I had a dollar for every brain you don’t have, I’d have one dollar,” and “Wake me up when I care.” These quotes are the sole embodiment of nearly every teenager and young adult in America. Squidward is simply speaking the language of every millennial out there.
So, the next time you’re watching a children’s animated show, remember that you never know which character you’ll end up being. You might find yourself living in an underwater town called Bikini Bottom and you’re not the go-lucky, enthusiastic star of the show. No, you’re the squid living next door and you know what? You’re very happy to be him.