Did Disney just serve us a lesson in shadow work?
I finally caved in and watched Encanto. I’m not big on Disney but I was so curious to know why I Luisa’s song was such a hit.
It wasn’t just that these songs made adult women cry. The song clearly struck a chord with the strong women who would rather try to lift a donkey on their own than ask for help.
I’m the eldest child of a fairly traditional Latin family — so I could definitely relate to Luisa. I was strong until I couldn’t keep it up.
But for me, the character that I needed to understand so I could recover from that pressure of “always be strong and hustling” was Isabela.
I’m her, but with Mirabel’s hair — the reinforcement of perfection and meeting expectations was physical (hair straightening every Sunday) and mental (gotta get those As).
Why would I keep bringing up these elementary school stories? In a blink of an eye I will be in my 40s. Shouldn’t I “get over it”?
Laughs in Spanish — Yes, one should get over it. And I think this is why a bunch of grown ass women are bawling over Luisa’s song.
We tried to get over it by becoming strong on the outside. Our insides are full of cracks, and the only way to get through is to ignore they are there. If we were to look at what’s there, we might crumble.
You know that scene where Isabela gets all worked up and a cactus pops us? She didn’t know she could create something so odd like a cactus. She kept creating the nice, pretty things everyone expected of her, and she was miserable.
This is the greatest metaphor to explain what I’ve been through my entire life. Trying to follow a prescribed path but convincing myself that’s not what I’m doing at all.
I thought I was being “authentic”.
I wasn’t. For the most part, I’ve been a naughty, petty rebel. I didn’t have a cause. I didn’t have a purpose.
It’s not that I was raised to be selfish and self-absorbed, as everyone likes to say about Millennials. What I understand now is that all of this was a defense mechanism…and if you fuck around, you are going to find out what you were unconsciously protecting your self from.
Like the quote by Gloria Steinem
“Truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
My disconnect was not because I was a spoiled child. I could not face the fear that I would be excluded from the world if I didn’t conform. So I played this game of trying to fit in, while keeping a little bit of rebelliousness for myself.
When Isabela finally accepts that she’s been putting on a façade, she finally creates something that she likes. An irregular, prickly, odd-looking cactus. To her, it’s beautiful, because it is her own authentic creation.
That’s the path I’m on right now — figuring out what I can build now that I’ve sat with my fears.
So, yes, we should “get over it”, but changing our outside world is not how you do it.
This is an inside job, and I’m here for it — I am building an entire world so other pointless rebels can join me, fuck around, find out, and free themselves from the pressure to perform for others.
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