People always ask me why I am so interested in Disney when I am an 18-year-old college student. Well, as Walt Disney said, “Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional." Here are 10 things Disney movies teach us that we can use to guide us as we transition into our college years.
1. Tangled: Go Out of Your Comfort Zone
Rapunzel never left her tower. Even though she was curious about the floating lights, she felt trapped in the tower by her mother who taught her that the outside world was a bad place. But the movie opens with the song, “When will my Life Begin,” and the answer to that is shown once Rapunzel leaves the tower. High school was our Mother Gothel. It held us trapped in a comfortable tower where we knew everything. Break away from high school. Try new things that you would never have tried at home. College is a place where no one knows who you used to be so use that to your advantage and follow your dreams, for you will find more success once you break out of your tower.
2. The Princess and the Frog: Chase Your Dreams
Tiana is a girl stuck in her family’s restaurant in a town she grew up in her entire life, but she has a dream of opening her own restaurant and starting her own life. Even when things do not go as planned (she turns into a frog), she never lets go of this dream, and that is how she finally succeeds. When things get in the way, which they will, never give up on your dream. Your dream is the thing that keeps you going all throughout college, and if you chase it with passion and intensity, you will live your dream.
3. The Little Mermaid: Be Curious
The entire movie of The Little Mermaid is based on Ariel’s desire to leave the sea and explore the human world. She has a cave where she collects hundreds of human items and will do anything for feet to explore land. Ariel’s curiosity leads her to success. Whether it is just asking a question in class, going to your professor after hours to expand on an idea or doing more research on a particular topic, don’t be afraid to be curious. College is the place to explore all the ideas and questions you have had your entire life, so branch out, be curious and ask all the questions you need to.
4. The Lion King: Don’t Worry, Things Will Work Out
This one is simple: hakuna matata. No worries. College has so many ups and downs, stressful moments and emotional breakdowns, but Timone and Pumba are right. You cannot worry about every little thing that goes on in college, because it will eventually work itself out.
5. Finding Nemo: Embrace Your Weaknesses
Nemo has a bad fin, Dory has short-term memory loss, Marlin has anxiety, the fish in the tank have OCD and multiple-personality disorder, Bruce can’t stop eating fish — all of the characters in Finding Nemo represent a different disability or weakness, but none of these characters let their weakness hold them back. Everyone has a weakness, but instead of focusing on it or letting it keep you down, embrace it. If studying is your weakness, try different methods until you find one that works for you. If you’re not used to meeting new people, introduce yourself to everyone you meet. College is the time to grow as a person, so do not let anything hold you back.
6. Cinderella/Snow White: Be Patient and Kind
In high school there were petty girls and jerk boys and people who said would instigate fights for no reason, but in college, we have to leave all of that behind. College is the place to be patient and kind to others. There are thousands of kids at college, so if you do not want to be friends with someone you don’t have to, but that doesn’t mean a simple “hello” to someone you have a class with or someone on your floor won’t go a long way. Treating others kindly will cause a domino effect and make your campus and friendly and nicer environment.
7. Brave/Mulan: Be Who You Are, Not Who Others Think You Are
There are too many people in college for you to feel like you need to be someone else to fit in, and just because you were a certain way in high school doesn’t mean you have to be that way in college. Whoever you are or whoever you want to be is who you should be in college. Just like Merida and Mulan, do not let others stand in your way. They were both supposed to be a certain way, but neither of them let the expectations of others hold them back from living their dreams, and in the end, they both found the happiness they were looking for their entire lives.
8. Monsters Inc.: Embrace Others' Differences
Sully and Mike were taught for their entire lives that monsters were meant to scare young kids, that humans were bad and vice versa, so the kids are inherently scared of the monsters. But Sully and Boo show us that even though two people are completely different and not meant to be friends, people can surprise you. Embrace others who aren’t like you, because college is the place to learn about all the other people that are out there and create unexpected friendships. The unexpected friendships usually turn out to be the best ones.
9. Lilo and Stich: Family Means No One Gets Left Behind
“Ohana means family, and family means no ones gets left behind;" a quote that we all know from Lilo and Stitch. Whether family refers to your family back home, your friends back home or the friends that become family at college, do not leave anyone behind to try and be something “better” at college. Remember where you came from. The people back home and the people you meet here shape who you are and who you will become.
10. Peter Pan: Just Because You’re Older, Doesn’t Mean You Have To Grow Up
Wendy, Peter and the lost boys knew that they were getting older, but they would not grow up. There is nothing wrong with feeling like a child every now and again. College is a scary place with new, adult-like responsibilities, but if we can remember the simple joys of being a kid, these responsibilities will not feel so overwhelming. Enjoy the little things in life and treat life like a kid. Treat college like a Disney adventure and everything will end in “happily ever after."
Disney is most famous for its animation, its magic and its appeal to children. But just because we are "adults" now, does not mean that we cannot learn something from these Disney creations. Every one of us can be a princess, can be a lost boy and can be a monster, it just takes, "A little faith, a little trust and a whole lot of pixie dust."
Lead Image Credit: The Walt Disney Company