Why Moana is the Anthem for Every Travel Girl

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A couple of weeks ago I saw Disney’s newest film, Moana. There were a few problems I had with the overall story structure but the music was just about flawless. Shout out to Lin-Manuel Miranda! One of the best parts of this movie is how empowering the songs Moana (and her grandma) sing. As a woman who travels, I know how hard it is to find support to go “beyond the horizon.” And while I may not live in a small village, and I’m not a chief’s daughter (clarified in the movie as NOT a princess *Pocahontas rolls her eyes* ) the stigma about leaving home is still very real.

One of my favorite songs in the movie comes when Moana finds herself hopelessly lost and defeated, despite her braveness and tenacity. She didn’t get it right on the first try…or even the second time.  I think this is a really powerful lesson for girls who want to strike out on their own, regardless of whether it’s through travel or not. You’re not going to magically get it right. Even with magical help, Moana doesn’t get it right. Here’s my takeaway from how one of her songs should be the anthem for every girl who travels.

(Gramma Tala): I know a girl from an island
She stands apart from the crowd
She loves the sea and her people
She makes her whole family proud

The first stanza of this song is beautiful. Her grandma reminds her that she is loved and affirms that her family is proud of her, despite her own feelings of inadequacy. This whole song had me on the brink of tears, but the beginning is especially poignant because it’s not often enough that women from older generations speak identity over the younger ones. Women, rise up. Stop complaining about the younger spoiled millennials and start speaking to the generations younger than you, no matter your age. They need to hear affirmation. You might be the only voice giving it to them.

Sometimes the world seems against you
The journey may leave a scar
But scars can heal and reveal just
Where you are

Scars are okay. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to fail. It’s through these obstacles and failures that you discover not only who you are, but what you want. You are made stronger by your “weaknesses” because once you challenge yourself you can find ways to overcome them. It took me so long to realize that being hurt, being disappointed and being found lacking was actually one of the best things that could happen. When you’re living in another country and you ‘just can’t’, you start to realize how strong you really are, by pressing forward anyway.

The people you love will change you
The things you have learned will guide you
And nothing on Earth can silence
The quiet voice still inside you
And when that voice starts to whisper
Moana, you’ve come so far
Moana, listen
Do you know who you are?

Every woman needs to be asked this question, “Who are you?” One of my life changing moments came when an older lady asked me that at a local market. I started to tell her what I did for my job (at the time I was a nanny) and she stopped me asking, “But is that what you want to do with your life?” The answer was no. And so she told me to start defining myself by what I longed to do. I am a writer. I am an artist. I am an advocate. This is who I am.

(Moana): Who am I?
I am the girl who loves my island
I’m the girl who loves the sea
It calls me

Here’s we go! This is the part where I almost pulled a Shia Lebouf and stood up clapping. Moana is questioning herself and what she feels called to the whole first part of the movie but when she takes some time to reflect she realizes who she really is. I’m not crying – you are.

I am the daughter of the village chief
We are descended from voyagers
Who found their way across the world
They call me

I’ve delivered us to where we are
I have journeyed farther
I am everything I’ve learned and more
Still it calls me

Okay, so now shit (sorry, mom) gets real. Not only is Moana claiming who she is, in this part, but she’s claiming what she’s done. Not only what she’s done, but that it has value. Impostor syndrome is a very real part of American culture, for women. We feel like even if we accomplish something it’s because we were “lucky” or “the stars just aligned” we don’t claim that we fought and clung and crawled our way to get there. That’s not right. And also not healthy. CLAIM your victories – you have journeyed farther! You are so much more!

And the call isn’t out there at all
It’s inside me
It’s like the tide, always falling and rising
I will carry you here in my heart
You’ll remind me
That come what may, I know the way
I am Moana!

Throw the confetti! Light the fireworks! She won! She hasn’t even made it to her “foe” in the movie and she’s already won! Why? Because she gets it, now. It wasn’t ever about needing to travel across the sea (although that is a big part of her identity). She realizes that her strength comes from within and the love of her family (her grandma’s spirit) is something that she always has to hold onto. The physical journey was only one part of her transformation and overcoming. SHE DID IT! And so can you.

And now, this is me:

Here’s the full song, in case you want to re-listen:

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2 thoughts on “Why Moana is the Anthem for Every Travel Girl

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