**THE LAST JEDI SPOILERS AHEAD!**
GENERAL ARMITAGE HUX: …WE HAVE NO LEADER!!
KYLO REN: The Supreme Leader is dead!
GENERAL ARMITAGE HUX: *squeaked out through a force choke* Long live the Supreme Leader!
Being an American and not very familiar with the customs of the monarchy, I didn’t catch the meaning of this exchange at first. Proclaiming the death of the previous ruler and announcing the reassurance of stability with the new one is custom. It defines that transference of power happens instantaneously after death. Hux screaming that the First Order is in chaos and that they have no leader is simply not true as Kylo not-so-gently reminds him. The moment Kylo Ren killed Snoke, he became the Supreme Leader.
The Last Jedi
Episode 8 has come with a lot of changes to Star Wars. We may feel like Hux: panicking about the lack of clear story direction, instability in knowing the destiny of our heroes, unknown fate of villains, changes to what is possible in an episodic film, or simply the differences in character portrayal compared to previous Star Wars media. You may feel that Star Wars is speeding through hyperspace without a pilot. However, The Last Jedi creatively ushers in “New Star Wars“ while tipping its hat to “Old Star Wars“.
Star Wars is dead. Long live Star Wars.
Change and Uncertainty Management
That’s what businesses like to call it when they roll out support services during a reorganization (a.k.a. layoff). It’s all about learning how to cope and live your life in an ever-changing environment with an uncertain future for which you can’t plan. While this all sounds very corporate, change and uncertainty management is a critical set of skills necessary to enable you to live your life and free yourself from an endless loop of “what-ifs” until resolution is reached for whatever you are worried about.
Having lived most of my extremely green professional life in limbo due to industry conditions, I’m very lucky to have cultivated strong coping skills (note: “skills” not “mechanisms,” big difference). These skills along with a healthier perspective on change have bled into and permeated my personal life.
There is comfort in knowing a general formula. The numbers and variable names change, but you take the same steps to solve the equation. Where previous Star Wars films have followed a general algebraic formula, The Last Jedi presents a word problem for us to interpret and solve how we see fit. That can be unsettling to the person who wants to “plug and chug” as I fondly call it. They want to be given the “how” and simply crunch numbers. With The Last Jedi, there are multiple ways to approach the complex prompt with similar, but different answers, or no one definitive answer at all. So how do we shift to this new way of operating in a galaxy far, far away…?
Change now excites me. Instead of focusing on the differences from the previous state, I look to the possibility of growth and enjoyment I can get out of the new. This is how I view the open-ended point we find ourselves in with the Star Wars universe. Sure, I’m still a fairly new fan who doesn’t have a childhood nostalgia connection to our seasoned characters which probably makes this shift much easier, but if Star Wars fans can transition their perspective to being more open and optimistic about change we can give ourselves permission to sit down in a theater and enjoy whatever comes our way.
I’ll leave you with some of my Star Wars translations for change and uncertainty management principles. If this topic interests you, be sure to subscribe to our podcast, Hyperspace PodBlast (Your Star Wars fix in 30 min or less) on iTunes, Podbean, Stitcher, etc. We have a very special guest/mental health professional lined up to discuss the changes Star Wars is going through, and how you can frame your thoughts and perspective, you won’t want to miss!
Some principles of uncertainty management and managing change:
- Spend time reflecting on your core values and mission.
Star Wars Translation: What do you feel are the core values of Star Wars? What are your main reasons for loving Star Wars? Dig deep. Go back to the basics and see how that guides your perception.
- Be Flexible and Creative
Star Wars Translation: “You must unlearn what you have learned” The Last Jedi gives us the opportunity to redefine success. Mistakes, a strong theme in TLJ, provide an avenue to success and growth. Be flexible in your definition of a “Star Wars Feeling.”
- Think Outside the Box
Star Wars Translation: People have joked that they forgot to tell Rian Johnson he was making Episode 8, not 9. The ending of TLJ is extremely open-ended to the point it’s nearly impossible to predict where things will go in our final trilogy installment. After two years of suspense from a cliffhanger ending to The Force Awakens with intense speculation of immediate next moments, Star Wars fans aren’t used to a expanded, outside the box prediction creation. Take this opportunity to have fun with your ideas: write fan fiction, draw, theorize, create. That’s the beauty of fandom and the gift we’ve been given with the end of this movie.
- Accept Uncertainty and be Optimistic
Star Wars Translation: While it’s fun to theorize, life is inherently uncertain. This isn’t where I say, “Don’t get carried away with your theories to the point you don’t enjoy Episode 9!” Instead, be open and accepting of changes that could happen. Be optimistic that you’ll enjoy it; don’t waste your energy worrying about what is to come. Of all the outcomes, focus on the best one for you.
- Self Care is Important
Star Wars Translation: Resistance fighters need to get good sleep, stay hydrated, and take care of themselves to be their best when fighting the First Order. Make sure you are doing that too. Feeling anxious or upset? Build your set of coping skills: healthy activities that assist you to process and feel good about yourself during AND after. Build your “Star Wars” support system and find a group of people who foster creative and positive perspectives.
- See the Big Picture
Star Wars Translation: It’s a war, not a battle. Get a full picture. I’ve seen knee-jerk reactions of “The Last Jedi ruined Star Wars!” Let’s back up. We have 9 films, multiple television series, comics, books, etc. Star Wars…it’s so much more. Cultivate what you love in Star Wars and hold onto it tight. Take a look at the whole galaxy. Shoot for the stars. Even if you miss, at least you’ll land among the Purrgils.