I read recently that Hollywood is out of new stories – evidence, in particular, came from the current series of classic Disney films turned into live action movies as well as the comic book world coming out with new films featuring beloved superheroes and villains in excess. Maybe that’s true (though Hollywood seems to be laughing all the way to the bank), but I have a different theory. These reiterations of older movies represent the childhoods of an aging population (gulp, which includes me). I grew up idolizing Wonder Woman – her new movie comes out this summer (can’t wait!). I spent countless days as the warrior princess – lassoing my little brother with my jump rope Lasso of Truth, saving the world in my Invisible Jet. As a teenager I saw the debut of Beauty and the Beast in theaters and fondly remember watching it hundreds of times in my college dorm room – just hearing the opening notes of Belle’s song in the village brings a wave of emotion back from a period in my life when all seemed unsure. These are not just stories, they are part of my story and many others of my generation. To see them come back to life on the big screen transports us to forgotten pieces of our childhood.
I sat through Beauty and the Beast last week with tears welling up in my eyes, overcome with emotion. It took me back to my third floor, freshman year dorm room – the excitement and terror I had about this new life away from home, trying to figure out what I would become. The freedom and responsibility of it all, mixed with the raw emotions of an 18-year-old came rushing back as the movie played. As silly as it sounds, as a college student, I identified with Belle – a young woman who “didn’t quite fit in” and found books as an escape. That was me (and likely many others… but that made it no less true for me at the time). While not in a provincial village, I was in a small college town, struggling mightily with who I was – I turned to books for insight, comfort and escape.
“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell… I want so much more than they’ve got planned…”
This was a rallying cry for me – and many women of my generation. There was this sense of wanting to explore and live a more interesting life. Feeling a sense of stretching the societal boundaries, largely due to the strong examples and role models of my youth. So, here I was all these years later watching this movie with my husband and children, yet I felt as if I was my younger self. It was overwhelming to be back at that place.
I am truly grateful for this life that I am blessed to lead. I strive to live with intention and joy each day, creating the best life possible for myself and my family. However, watching this movie, struck a chord in me that I have been unable to shake. It has prompted me to remember dreams and goals of my childhood – many were vague, such as to “change the world” – but there was a spirit and energy in them. As I work on being the best version of myself today, I see that it’s healthy to rekindle that passion and excitement again.
Ultimately, this really isn’t about Belle or Wonder Woman, this is about finding the stories of my youth and reconnecting with them:
- The songs I sang at the top of my lungs with the car windows down on a summer day
- The books I devoured on the back porch of my childhood home
- The sound of robins singing outside my bedroom window
Do you remember those carefree days? Those moments of your youth? While I certainly don’t want to go back to my teenage years again, there is something powerful about reconnecting with that younger self – it is a reminder of who I really am. As I look back, I realize I am not so different from that girl – there have been unexpected twists and turns, but I am proud of the life I have created. Now, I go forward with a bit more purpose and focus; continuing on this path toward creating the life I dreamed of so many years ago. While I am grateful for where I am, I know I have much more to accomplish.
I’m also reminded that this isn’t only about me and my generation, it’s about our children. As I was writing this, my dear friend, Katie, @katiewilliams posted the picture above (which she graciously allowed me to borrow) of her little girl dressed as Belle, complete in mommy’s red heels. Her sweet girl and so many others are building their own memories, experiencing moments of pure joy. Hearing my own daughter sing the songs and quote lines from the movie makes my heart soar. I love that these stories now also belong to this new generation.