[Spoiler Alert: Frozen plot points ahead! This is probably a sign that you should go see it if you haven’t.]
It was nearly a month ago when I had the pleasure of seeing Disney’s newest animated film Frozen in theaters for the first time, and I recently was able to see it again with my closest group of friends. Not only was I completely blown away, my emotions were flung between extremes of unbridled anger, pity, and happiness, and I found myself both laughing relentlessly and crying tears of both sorrow and joy. Case in point, Frozen was not only one of the most amazing stories from Disney I’ve seen in a while, it was also one of the most relatable, for me and many others as well. My friend Chelsea connected to Olaf the Snowman’s moving declaration of friendship. I, however, found myself identifying with a different character: Elsa, also known as the Snow Queen.
Elsa, heir to the throne of Arendelle, is born with the ability to conjure and control ice and snow. When she inadvertently hurts her younger sister Anna with her powers, she attempts to learn how to keep her icy abilities under control. However, her fear of hurting someone again only causes them to grow stronger and instead of learning to control her power, she resorts to hiding and repressing it, cutting herself off from her sister in the process. As Elsa reminds herself before her coronation, “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see…conceal, don’t feel, put on a show – make one wrong move and everyone will know!” The newly-crowned queen couldn’t keep her powers suppressed forever, however. Angered by her sister, she accidentally reveals her abilities and flees, freezing everything in her wake. Once alone, she realizes that her fears of being found out were irrational, and decides to stop hiding what she deems to be her true self. In her signature musical number, aptly named “Let It Go”, she casts off her stuffy mask of the perfectly-behaved queen and finally embraces her capabilities rather than hiding them away.
I realized that I sympathized with Elsa because I had been doing the exact same thing she had for a long time. Her mantra of “conceal, don’t feel” is one that I’ve repeated to myself many times throughout my life. While I’m obviously not trying to hide icy magical powers from the world, I have often felt like I needed to conceal other things: my “irrational” feelings, my “strange” interests, and my unorthodox opinions, to name a few. Throughout middle and high school, when I was beginning to “come into myself” and critically analyze my characteristics and thought processes; the need to hide from all but my closest friends was especially strong since I grew up in a community that wasn’t very diverse. Even during my first semester at LMU, a liberal arts college full of amazing and open-minded thinkers, I was still careful to keep what I think to be my “true self” in the shadows, as it were. For whatever reason, I was still afraid: of what others would think of me, that I wouldn’t be liked, that my thoughts and words would be written off simply because they were coming from me. And, just like Elsa, I’m finally beginning to realize just how irrational my fears are.
A few of those fears that I’ve decided to let go? I’m so glad you asked.
– The fear that I am unintelligent. The evidence refuting this fear has been right in front of my nose for so long. I am not just conventionally intelligent (as in school), I am imaginative and creative; I not only love learning existing knowledge, but creating my own.
– The fear that I am weak, insignificant, and inadequate. This toxic mentality has made itself at home in many lives, not just mine. It chokes me and tries to jerk me down whenever I feel as if I am making a difference for myself or anyone else. But now I fight against it: not only am I strong, I am a strong force for good, and my actions will always be “good enough.” I have infinite potential.
– The fear that I must be “perfect” in others’ eyes to be worth anything. For nearly my entire life, my self-worth has hinged on whether or not others approved of me; the slightest critical word from anyone could shatter any positive image of myself that I may have had. Now I understand that others’ ideas of what I should be, what I should think, or what I should believe mean absolutely nothing; if I am happy with myself, that’s all that matters.
– The fear of being enthusiastic. Most who know me well know that when I really love something, whether it be a piece of media, an aesthetic, or even a social cause, I hold nothing back when it comes to expressing my enthusiasm for that thing. I find that love and excitement only natural, but many have called it strange, annoying, and irrational. These outside perceptions will no longer change my expressions of excitement toward the things I’m passionate about.
What aspect of Frozen did you most connect with if you’ve seen it? Have you decided to let anything go as we go into a new year? Feel free to comment – I’d love to hear your stories!