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To the Isabela Madrigals Who Were Taught to Be Perfect, Not Human

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Editor's Note

This is a recap for Disney’s “Encanto.” There will be spoilers beyond this point. Please proceed with caution (because we don’t want to be the ones who spoil you!)

To the Isabela Madrigals,

They never let you just exist, did they? 

You were never asked the question “Who are you?” Instead, you were told “This is who you will be, or else.”

You were given one goal in life – make the family proud. You only knew one way to do that, and that’s to be perfect. Not good or great, but perfect.

• What is PTSD?

The picture perfect poster child in the family, you never caused problems. You never voiced your needs. You took what you were given, always gracious, and then made yourself smaller to keep the family happily. You never showed negative or “ugly” emotions. You didn’t cry or complain. 

You learned what they wanted from you, and you gave it to them tenfold. Their cheers made you feel worthy and valid. You had straight A’s and were always the fastest reader in school. You made it into your top pick for college and you were the roommate who always made their bed in the morning. You graduated with honors and got an amazing job afterwards that you worked hard for. You found love, or something close to it. It’s someone the family would accept even if it’s safe, and nothing else.

When others looked at you they saw someone whose life was an absolute dream – someone who had it all together, but then one day you looked in the mirror and realized you didn’t know who was staring back at you.

Slowly life lost its zest. You weren’t excited about anything. You chased dreams and visions that weren’t yours because you were told that’s what they should be. When asked “What do you want?” you didn’t know how to answer since you never dared to think about it.

Then one day, you fell out of grace.

The reflection of the person who had it all together cracked. Overwhelmed with the feeling of being a failure, all the suppressed feelings and emotions from years of hiding pour out. From there, every small mistake triggers you. You become your harshest critic. You found yourself in the darkest place you’ve ever been. Depressed, anxious, with remnants of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from years of utilizing perfectionism as a mode of survival, you’re left asking yourself “What do I do now?”

You get to know yourself. You learn to give yourself grace for making small mistakes (or, even large mistakes). There’s no way you’re not going to mess up, or live up to everybody’s expectations. There will be days where you speak out of turn and say the wrong thing, but it doesn’t devalue you as a human being. Don’t punish yourself because you were set up for failure due to the unreachable standards that were set for you. 

The old you, who was never actually you, died, but maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe this is also the birth of someone who is real, true, and above all else, human.

You’ll still be OK even though you didn’t live up to the expectations of others. You’re not perfect. You’re better than that. You’re imperfect, and there’s nothing shameful about it.

Disney’s “Encanto” is currently streaming on Disney+


Lead image courtesy of DisneyMusicVevo’s YouTube channel.

Originally published: January 14, 2022
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