Warning: Slight spoilers for the end of I Am Not Okay With This are ahead.
Sydney (Sophia Lillis) was a regular high school student until one day she developed strange powers seemingly out of nowhere. I Am Not Okay With This chronicles Sydney's superpower discovery and how hard it they make her already kinda complicated life. The series' intention was to have Sydney be a high school student first with burgeoning powers second. She also demonstrates why not everyone may actually want special powers, given the choice.
"She kind of has a crush on this guy. She also has a crush on her best friend. She has no idea why she has these crushes. The really annoying thing is that she has superpowers," I Am Not Okay With This co-creator Jonathan Entwistle told Refinery29 and other reporters at the show's Pittsburgh area set. "[The powers] slowly but surely arise and get bigger and bigger. … [it's] is a hindrance to her getting through high school."
The series gets its title from the graphic novel of the same name, but also from Sydney's reaction to all of these massive life changes. "She’s like, 'Oh, man, I'm not okay with being a superhero,'" Entwistle said before clarifying that she actually isn't a superhero. She's just a kid "who has superpowers in this bigger world."
In the graphic novel, Syd's powers are a little different. Both the show and the book have given her the power of telekinesis, but in the novel she can only use that power to "make people hurt, like in their heads." In the show, she does that when she makes Bradley's (Richard Ellis) nose start to bleed, but she can also do much more than that. She can make objects float and throw them across rooms. She can knock over signs with just the toss of a pebble. She can rip apart walls and even fell trees. She's seriously powerful. Usually, her powers come out when she's angry and can't control herself.
Wyatt Oleff, who plays Stanley, told reporters on set that he felt that "the powers are in a way representing teenage angst and how you bottle up your emotions and stuff."
Although Sydney tries to calm herself down when she feels her powers bubbling up, sometimes she just can't keep that lid on them, and they seem to come out even stronger in those instances. Entwistle hinted that potential future seasons of the show will explore the true nature of Syd's powers and how they're so strong that they may be end up being used for other people's gain. If Netflix renews I Am Not Okay for season 2 (and beyond), Entwistle also wants to get into the mythology of her powers and how they lead far back into a bigger conspiracy.
Towards the end of the season, Sydney began to believe her father may have had similar powers. He died by suicide before the series started, and he may have been struggling with similar demons as Sydney. Her mother Maggie (Kathleen Rose Perkins) believes that her dad had PTSD from being in the war, but when Maggie described his struggles, they sounded similar to what Sydney had been experiencing. For example, her dad kept saying no one would understand what he was going through, he would suddenly rush out of a room when he got angry, he believed he was being followed, and he once survived a massive explosion that killed everyone around him. Sydney seems to believe the explosion was a result of her father's potential powers and that he couldn't handle the guilt of having caused it.
No one but Stanley knows about Syd's powers as of the end of season 1. Well, no one but Stan and the mystery man who has been following Sydney. His identity, connection to her powers, and hopefully knowledge of how those powers work will have to wait for a season 2 renewal just like the rest of us.