When I was younger, I was absolutely obsessed with The Lion King. I had a Lion King birthday party when I turned three, a plethora of Lion King figurines (eventually including new characters from The Lion King 2, duh), and a Lion King themed room until I was about twelve and my mom gently sat me down and told me that it was a little odd, and that I should graduate to a more mature room as I approached thirteen.
Which is all pretty miraculous, considering that when I first saw The Lion King in theaters, I kept yelling "Bye bye Lion King!" until my parents finally picked me up and left. (I guess I didn't feel like putting up with Zazu's bullshit that day, although with every re-watch, I realize how I have slightly evolved into a paranoid Zazu myself.)
One of my favorite Lion King toys was hardly a toy at all, but a watering hole surrounded with reeds. The water itself was mirror-like, with a button you could push that illuminated a Mufasa "reflection" in the middle to replicate the part of the movie where Simba hears his father speaking to him from the sky. Mufasa only had two catchphrases, one being "Siiiiimbaaaa" in a deep, rumbling voice, and "Rememberrrr Who You Arrrreee".
As I currently struggle to maintain my sense of self while balancing work, life, and everything in between, I reflect on Mufasa's words, Remember Who You Are. When you're feeling down, or like you're not good enough, remember what you love and what you do well.
It's easy to forget when fighting against the tide to stay afloat, and when social media makes it so easy to compare yourselves to others. But never forget what makes you, you. I have felt very self conscious lately, and started to question everything. I felt like I was losing my identity and not making time for things that bring me joy. Then the other day, I received an email that a piece I wrote is going to be published in an upcoming anthology and was thrilled. I did a thing! I thought. Maybe I am a writer after all! Maybe I am not a failure!
I wish it didn't take something like that to verify my own worth, but hey - good news is good news.
And please, I urge you, do not ever think you are a failure because you aren't where you thought you'd be. There is so much pressure in your mid-twenties (and even beyond) to figure things out or else you feel like you're doomed. Some people make a positive career switch, go back to school or start families later in life. According to Business Insider, Stan Lee created his first comic at 38 and Julia Child didn't publish her first cookbook until she was 50. We have time. It's going to be okay.
Keep remembering what you are built from, what you want to achieve, and everything that gives you life. It might even help to make a list to help determine your next steps. I am a writer, a communicator, a good listener, a lover of board games, etc. I am not a mindless working machine, a disappointment, a waste of space, a burden.
Remember who you are. Remember what gives you life. Surround yourself with positive people, and do more of what makes you happy.
In the words of Joseph Fink at the end of many Welcome to Night Vale episodes:
Hey, I love you.