These random thoughts started when I first watched ‘Encanto’ with my son. This movie portrays a family who were graced with a miracle and who continued to blossom over the years as every member received a gift when they came of age. A gift that made them all special in their own way. By time, the way they strived for perfection to maintain their status led them all to focus on themselves, morphing them into selfish beings while showing less compassion and empathy towards the burdens or struggles of their siblings, cousins, parents, and grandparents. This forced each and every one of them to hide their own struggles and difficulties, to keep up appearances, leading them to frustration, dishonesty, and unhappiness.
Disney has genially created a movie that entertains the child within whilst being a metaphor for the world of dysfunction we live in, forever measuring (or trying to) our success and focusing on what we have not yet achieved, rather than celebrating what we already have and what we can achieve by making the best of each other’s gifts. To me this whole concept is easily transferable to a family unit, to an organisation, to a government and to the wider world.
This is not a new concept. Most would say they embrace diversity, many times referring to gender, race, sexuality and so many other permutations. These are not even the diversity concerns I am referring to here. Do we really embrace each other’s strengths? Or do we inherently highlight the shortcomings of others to make ourselves feel superior?
Do we see someone strong and keep throwing all major burdens at them without a care for how heavy the weight on their shoulders is? Do we do so because we want them to break? Would you offer a hand? Would you ridicule them for being angry or sad or emotional when they open themselves up to you and/or break down? Would you make them feel like a failure rather than praise them for all they have already achieved?
Do we see someone timid and shy, and walk by without taking the time to make them feel seen? Would you realise that they have an amazing gift for listening, observing and being intuitive?
How arrogant are we to think our way is the best way? And do we really want to strive for perfection? Would making everyone fit into the same perfectly-sized box make us better in any way? Or is this just a power game? A war where one side wins and the other loses?
We tend to live in a culture that asks us to think outside the box, then mocks us for coming up with something different or asking for help. How many of us have not said what we were thinking for fear that we would be called foolish, emotional, incapable, and a variety of other adjectives?
Containing yourself is exhausting and it makes you lose your light, your joy, your life, your fire.
You don’t need to showcase a special gift to attain status or recognition.
You are the gift.
You are the miracle.
Thanks for being here, thanks for helping, thanks for listening, thanks for speaking up, thanks for being honest.
No authority (society?) can expect all its members to fit the same box. When it does, it will inevitably make the majority feel outcast, and many of its members will be lost.
The saying ‘alone we can do so little, together we can do so much’ is more pertinent today than ever before, and unless this is understood and implemented, it will spell the end of the world as we know it. This is not a YOLO post; this is a post asking you to celebrate every day surrounded by friends, family and team members. We should endeavour to carry each other’s burdens. To celebrate everyone being a star in their own right, to let constellations shift and burn differently than you expected, or would like them to. To not think only of yourself but to help each other’s candle burn brighter, to help pick up the pieces when everything falls apart and to help build a stronger foundation for tomorrow.
To go back to ‘Encanto’, a phrase in one of the songs was particularly striking: ‘I am pretty sure I am worthless if I cannot be of service’. It encapsulates the sense of what life should be. If we are not here to help each other, what is, then, the meaning of life?
My son is not yet able to apply these concepts in real life but talking through this story and its ending, with him, struck a chord deep within my core and will hopefully help him cultivate values of togetherness, compassion and community for his future.
Nicole Vella is our Human Resources Manager