I have a confession: I’m an addict. The feeling I get when I succumb to the sweet, constant pull is utterly indescribable. Suddenly, I’m not a college student who has a future to worry about, but just a little bean swirling around in a whirlpool of nostalgia, simplicity, and goodness.
I’m an addict…to Disney movies.
It all started during winter break. The day after I came back to Boston was my favorite day, because I did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING but lounge around the apartment, reveling in the lack of activity. My mother was at work, so I was free to eat my heart out, slide around in my underwear Risky Business-style, and generally just ooze around. Mid-day, I oozed myself onto the couch, deciding that it was time to take a break from oozing and just potato. (Are you following my lazy language? I hope so.) Since we moved this past summer, the only DVDs we had left were Inception, Look Who’s Talking, and a ton of Disney Movies. Since Inception required thinking and babies freak me out, the choice was obvious. In went The Princess and the Frog and thus, my addiction began.
I like to consider myself a tough movie-watcher. I don’t cry, and frankly, sad movies make me angry because I go purely for that happy ending. But within 20 minutes of The Princess and the Frog, I was drowning in a puddle of my own tears. When I watched the movie as a kid, I remember thinking, Meh. It was ok. But here I am now, a decade later, going through a freaking tissue box.
From there, every few days was a new movie. Aladdin, Shrek, The Incredibles, you name it, and you best bet the experience was just the same: wet eyes, tightening chest, random outbursts of swearing or joyous shouts, etc. I thought it would stop when I came back to school (God knows I don’t have time to be watching movies) but tell that to the two hours I spent screaming “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” at my computer screen last Sunday while my suitemates texted me to shut up.
I thought about getting treatment for my addiction, but perhaps I’m in denial when I say I actually think I’m better with it?
The thing is, if I really think about why watching these movies is wreaking havoc on my emotional stability, it’s because these stories and what they mean signify so much more to me now that I’m older and gone through some shit. At the same time, however, they still bring me back to when I was a kid and knew that no matter what, the story would end happily — a mentality I don’t think many Cornellians share on a daily basis.
These stories aren’t just reminding me of my positive outlook as a child but of qualities I used to value more than anything, especially more than a lousy prelim. In The Princess and the Frog, you see a girl who has worked tirelessly her whole life and has every hurdle thrown her way, but continues to persist and hope. You’re all Cornellians; there is no need to explain the relevance there. In Shrek, you see a character who is cruel as a self-defense mechanism to a world that has discriminated against something he never had a choice in, but manages to be kind and love anyway. As we grow up, we have a far better idea of what cruelty and discrimination looks like than we ever did as kids. As a half-Armenian, half-Chinese woman, the cultural representation and values preserved in Aladdin and Mulan had me welling up all throughout both films (Mulan also has some stuff for all you Cornellians facing imposter syndrome — Hello? Have you heard the song Reflection? Yeah). In the Incredibles, you see what it is like to fall from top to bottom and how easy it is to forget yourself and those who are important to you when you get wrapped up in self-pity. The list goes on and on.
They say that to find what matters to you, look to what excited you when you were younger. These movies and books serve as reminders of what really matters to me. In ten years, I pray I’m not going to look back and think “Wow, should’ve crammed to get a better prelim score.” I want to look back and think of how I persisted past my hurdles both academic and not, built meaningful relationships, explored my culture, and learned to be kind in the face of adversity. I’m addicted to Disney movies because in this competitive, Ivy-League atmosphere where slowing down seems to be equivalent to death, it feels so good to be reminded of the assurance I had as a kid and the bigger picture in general.
That isn’t to say that academia is irrelevant and college should just be about introspection and careers are for losers, but it doesn’t hurt to watch things that allow you to compare your passions and aspirations as a kid to the ones you have now and see if a little tweaking is in order. Cornell is a place where it is easy to lose yourself and your purpose, which it is why it is of the highest importance to find something that can always center you and allow for some introspection.
Disney movies do that for me. I encourage you to find what does that for you.
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