I may be turning into a motivational writer. That’s a good thing, right? I might not be as good at following my own advice so take it with a grain of salt. Maybe I’ll listen to myself someday. But for right now, I want to share the following thoughts because I’ve had them for a while.
Don Bluth’s Thumbelina is one of my favorite movies ever. I grew up watching it over and over again as a little kid, and I fell in love with it again as a tween--and then the VHS player in the back room ate our copy. I didn’t watch it again until college.
The first time I watched it as an adult, I was still slowly recovering from my first really big battle with depression. And on that viewing, Thumbelina made an impression on me like it never had before. Yes, it is a kids movie, but like some things more geared towards kids, there is something about Thumbelina that adults need to take seriously.
And what is that, exactly? I’m talking about following your heart.
Thumbelina is a little, LITTLE person in a big world, dominated by big people and bigger animals. Bigger things like mother nature. From the outset, Thumbelina doubts herself because she doesn’t know if she can ever take control of her own life--or have someone her size to understand her. Don’t get me wrong, she loves her mother, but there’s something special about being able to share your life with someone you have something more in common with. Like age. Or stature.
“I wish I were big,” she laments to her mother one night over story-time.
“Oh no,” says her mother. “Don’t ever wish to be anything but what you are.”
Later that night, she meets fairy Prince Cornelius. They fall in love almost right away and go out for a romantic joyride. Thumbelina is pretty sure, yes, this is what she wants in life.
But after she goes to bed, Mrs. Toad hops in and kidnaps her. Because Mrs. Toad’s son, Grande, is in love with Thumbelina, too.
Thumbelina protests, she loves the fairy Prince, what makes Mrs. Toad think she wants her son? But Mrs. Toad offers her something a little more interesting: a chance to join the Toad family band, travel the world, and become a famous music star. To be big--big as in important. Rich and famous. How could marrying your true love possibly be as rewarding, she tempts Thumbelina, as being rich and famous?
|"Ai, chihuahua, that would be a very big mistake." WeHeartIt|
Thumbelina’s infatuation with notion evaporates as soon as the Toads abandon her on a lily pad to go get the family for the wedding.
“DOESN’T ANYBODY CARE WHAT I THINK?”
This, right here, summarizes Thumbelina’s frustrations in the whole entire film. She loves the fairy prince and wants to spend her life with him. But she keeps getting sidetracked and waylaid by other characters who don’t care what she wants, who think that what she wants isn’t as good or important as what they want for her.
Thumbelina is rescued by Jacquemo the swallow, who is probably the only major character in the film to give a darn about what Thumbelina wants. He even does a whole musical number about it. And why is that? Thumbelina is lost, she has no idea how to get home, and the odds of getting back to be reunited with the prince should be slim to none for a girl no bigger than your thumb.
“Impossible? Nothing is impossible!”
It’s a cliche catchphrase, but it’s still an important one. We get held back and discouraged by everything that goes wrong, we begin to think that the goals we set out to achieve are not obtainable. To believe that we can achieve anything in our desire, that we have the power to do so, is a choice.
With her spirits renewed, Thumbelina sets out to go home, and then she gets taken by the Beetle. Instead of meeting up with the prince, she gets to make her big debut in the Beetle’s show. But as soon as her costume falls off and the bugs start ridiculing her looks, the Beetle leaves her high and dry.
Jacquemo, who always seems to turn up when Thumbelina needs encouragement the most, tells her that if she doesn’t care about the Beetle, then his approval doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what she thinks of herself, and what the people who truly care about her think.
Winter comes, and she hears word that Prince Cornelius is dead. Mrs. Fieldmouse’s proposal seems reasonable: marry the Mole and let him take care of her for the rest of her life. When she was out looking for home and getting nowhere she was starving. What’s the use?
But Jacquemo comes to remind her again that what she really wants is to marry the Prince. This scene almost breaks my heart. Jacquemo is reminding her that she can get what she wants, that she isn’t too small to follow her big dreams. And she’s yelling at him, “STOP! STOP IT, JACQUEMO!” For all Thumbelina knows, Cornelius is dead and her dream of being with him is shot. But a part of her still wants to believe--she still wants to have Cornelius in her life. She’s partly yelling at herself. I relate to this so much.
She’s in denial, you’re saying? Well, it’s more than just that. She comes to her senses at the altar and rejects the Mole. Even if she mistakenly believes that Cornelius is dead, she still knows that no one else could never make her that happy.
Jacquemo, who cared enough about Thumbelina’s dream to help her get it, takes her to the Vale of the Fairies, where Cornelius--who wasn’t dead after all--finds her again. And that’s when Thumbelina gets her own wings--because she followed through on her dream.
I’m here to tell you today that when you really want to have something in life, your attitude is what makes the difference. Like Thumbelina, chances are the odds are stacked against you. No one with your set of weaknesses is likely to succeed. But the only thing stopping you is yourself. You need to believe in what you want. And you need to believe in your ability to reach your goal. No one can make you believe. Believing is something you do for yourself.
Fame and fortune, popularity, and a comfortable life are not the things that will really make you happy. True success comes from being true to what YOU want.
Follow your heart. It is the message behind Thumbelina. It is the message behind many of my favorite stories. In a world where there are so many people trying to tell you what to do and how to live your life, it is a message that desperately needs to be heard.
It doesn’t matter if your goal is to marry a fairy prince, get your degree, or make a million dollars (or, like me, take just care of myself). Whatever you have to go through to get it is worth the agony. When you follow your heart--when you go after what you really want, and you do what it takes to pursue your worthwhile goals--then you can do anything.
Read More: Thumbelina's Life Lessons by Accepting Bethany. This blogger makes similar points and then some.