Shed The Expectations

Hopping on the Encanto Bandwagon

My therapist in Utah contacted me one day to ask me if I had seen the movie Encanto. He told me he had watched it with his daughter and thought of me. According to him, one of the characters was a near-perfect portrayal of me. (He did not tell me which character, but it was clearly Luisa—see the photo below).

Given the popularity of the movie and this information, I decided to sit down with my family and watch it. Yup, I hopped on the Encanto bandwagon.

Generally, Disney movies do not pique my interest. It does not help that I cannot focus on movies and television the way my husband and son can. I feel restless sitting for any length of time, and my mind either wanders aimlessly or disengages completely. This movie had me intrigued from beginning to end though! I sat in a whirlwind of emotions for the entirety of the musical. Parts of me were screaming, “yes” as each of the three sisters’ characters were developed.


The main character, Mirabel, was the only member of her family who did not have a gift. Not only that but she was portrayed as a very average, if not dorky (quirky?), girl. She was quirky, had a curly mop of hair on her head, wore glasses, and faded into the background—or was asked to stay out of the spotlight. There is nothing special about her at all. In fact, she is a disappointment to most of her family.

Many of us know what it is like to be mediocre. I know I do. There is nothing spectacular, unique, or special about me. I am invisible. Unless, of course, I make a mistake, and then I wish I could disappear from the attention of others again. I desperately want to be noticed for who I am—the good in me. I want to be heard, respected, and accepted for who I am. I am conflicted by the desire to be noticed and the safety of staying out of the way. I want to feel like I belong somewhere. I want to shine as Mirabel wanted to shine.

Check out Waiting on a Miracle.


The oldest sister, Luisa, was tall and muscular. She had a slightly deeper voice and did not meet the typical stereotype of a “perfect female body.” Her gift was her strength, and her family and town looked to her to carry heavy loads fix everything. In one scene, she was asked to move the town church, carry several donkeys back to their pen, and reroute the river. Reroute a river?!

How many of us try to fix everything because we believe we are the only ones who can? Or maybe the people around us wrongfully put us in that impossible position. I know I feel pressure to be the strong one, solve problems or find resolutions to some of the most important matters in others’ lives, spread myself thin to ease others’ burdens—or make them comfortable in their personal laziness. If I cannot do it—if I am tired, emotionally broken, or need a break—how will anything get done? What will people think of me if I can’t? I cannot let people down. I cannot let myself down. It is so much pressure. I do not know about you, but I have insecurities when my physical or emotional strength wanes or falters—I intentionally wore my “Don’t Weaken” shirt for the photo above to show how deep this vein runs for me. Luisa gave voice to my own insecurities better than I could in the song, Surface Pressure.


The remaining sister, Isabela, was perfect. She was thin with perfect skin and hair—the typical portrayal of beauty. And beauty was her gift. She scattered perfectly bloomed flowers all around with just a wave of her hand or a glance in the right direction. Her home and town were flawlessly decorated with the most beautiful and ornate flowers.

I know I am not alone in my need to make everything, including myself, perfect, and it is exhausting. I strive for mastery over my tasks, environment, and myself. A mistake? That is evidence that I am not good enough. I lose myself in the expectations I have for myself, and I create a perfect version of myself that I simply cannot maintain. But the more I seek perfection, the more I sense the bar raising on others’ expectations of me. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. I will do what you want—at my expense. Sound familiar? I know I am not the only one. Have you reduced yourself to the idea of perfection others have for you—that you have adopted for yourself? Have you lost yourself? I have, and I am mourning what I have missed out on. Isabela experienced it too, but in a moment of frustration, she created a rather than a flower. It made her feel alive. She started as herself, “What Else Can I Do?

Here’s The Thing

The three girls were living inauthentically, according to the expectations of others, and they were each miserable—and trying to keep it a secret.

Mirabel was not special. She was expected to stay out of the way, but she wanted to be involved.

Luisa was strong. Weakness was not an option. She was exhausted and fearful of not being capable of doing enough.

Isabela was perfect. She was expected to create perfection around her, but she wanted to be creative.

I genuinely loved the message of this movie. Striving to be who we are not—living according to others’ expectations—perceived or real—destroys us. It eats us from the inside out.

In my life, not feeling seen, trying to be strong, and striving for perfection were a few of the ingredients in my personal recipe for depression, anxiety, traumatic events, self-harm, disordered eating and excessive exercise, suicidal ideation and attempts, and hopelessness.

Admittedly, I struggled while watching Encanto. The message did hit hard. I wanted everyone to “get it.” But I felt let down and cried when my husband and son said they disliked the movie. How could they dislike something so relatable to someone so close to them? A Disney movie got it right, and I wanted them to see the deeper message—not just the entertainment value. A Disney movie showed the world the dangers of dismissing the average, relying solely on the strong, and expecting perfection over creativity.

Thank you, Disney. You shared a message with the world that it is okay to be who we genuinely are—human and uniquely different, strong but needful, and perfectly imperfect. And thanks for not giving us another stupid princess. I have no desire to be one and never have.

Be you, y’all. Shed the expectations. I see you, and I think you are awesome.

3 thoughts on “Shed The Expectations

  1. I thought it was fascinating that the Disney merchandise people wanted Luisa to be less bulky and more feminine to make her more marketable–the writers refused–but there has been a huge demand for her stuff.
    If you haven’t seen this, consider it my gift to you:

    Liked by 1 person

    • I heard that and thought it was awesome! Thank you for sharing it. I was talking about you the other day in the context of my dislike of yoga. We had some great adventures doing P90X in the wrestling loft.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting insight! You have to remember, men, generally don’t get the spiritual side of things. They see a story and take it at face value, never seeing beyond that to the deeper meanings of things. It’s one reason the mother often ends up as the spiritual head of the household. We accept this “weakness” in them and continue to pray that someday they’ll get it. I’ve been waiting 54 years. And when they make the effort to understand us, we don’t appreciate how hard that can be. Fortunately, our God gets it. He alone will identify with all the emotions/feelings we deal with. He did create us after all.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s