Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been anxious and uptight about everything. I would worry constantly about making sure my homework was done excellently, being the "perfect" child, and having nightmares that would result in sleepless nights. Disney has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember, but especially in my life from late elementary school. 

In elementary school I was bullied by a few girls and boys and that put my confidence down the drain. I would physically get sick at the thought of going to school and having to socialize with the people who I knew were going to be mean towards me.

Disney Movies 

I did not really have many friends, but I think that is where Disney came in for me. The Disney brand is full of magical characters and films that promote kindness, acceptance, and love. Looking back at those years, I can see now how these characters filled the empty spot that I was seeking and still continue to do into my early adulthood. 

My favorite Disney princess growing up was Sleeping Beauty (because her dress was pink), but in terms of admirable character traits and qualities my favorite was Snow White. Snow White was a pretty princess who was kind, talented, and a bit naive. I admired Snow White during elementary school because she was nice to her seven dwarf friends despite their differences and that is how I hoped that people in my school would behave. 

Later in my high school years, it was not the bullying which was a problem for me any more, but it was crippling social anxiety and depression that prevented me from having a satisfying and enjoyable high school experience. Whenever I would give a presentation or raise my hand to answer a question, I could feel my heart pounding, the sweat dripping down my forehead, and my face burning up as if I sat in the scorching sun.

Friendly Cast Members

The social anxiety was and still is a problem for me, but I found that when I went to Disney World that my fear went away. If I needed directions around Magic Kingdom or wanted to know when a certain princess would be greeting people, I had absolutely no trouble going up to a Cast Member and asking them. This was a concept unthinkable to me outside of Disney World, but the nice, friendly, and polite personality of the cast members left me at ease. I have even had memorable experiences with cast members where they struck up conversation with me about my hometown and even took photos of my sister and I which turned out excellent. 

Character Experiences

Along with the excellent cast members, the characters were able to help me overcome my social anxiety. On my first trip to Disney World, I remember being more nervous than excited to meet characters because I was afraid that I was going to mess up or say something embarrassing, but after going up to the princesses I realized that they are not there to judge me, but instead to make sure I have a magical and memorable time during my interaction. 

On my more recent trips to Disney World, I have had several extremely memorable interactions with characters that have made me very happy. On my most recent trip, Alice took my sister and I in the tea cups and that is only something I thought happened in the commercials, but she went out of her way to provide me with an unforgettable experience. Another interaction that stands out to me is when I met Goofy in Epcot. I met him earlier in the day, but during this time he remembered me and even wrote it out on paper. Those are just a few of the several interactions I have had where I felt appreciated and truly happy which is something I struggle to experience on a daily basis.

Disney Vloggers

When I am at school and cannot physically be at Disney World to decompress I have found other ways that I can sneak some happiness into my life. When I am very stressed or in the midst of a panic attack, I usually go to YouTube and watch my favorite Disney vloggers who capture their experiences in the park. Watching these videos helps me to relax and experience some positive emotions during times when I am depressed or overwhelmed. Some of my favorite Disney vloggers include MrCheezyPop, Sarah SterlingSprinkle Me Disney, Hayes Family Vlog, and Erik Peter Carlson

Disney Music

I also spend a large majority of my time listening to scores from Disney films such as Frozen, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, and Beauty and the Beast. The scores for these films are composed of such melodic and soothing sounds that help me when I am practicing my breathing exercises or trying to get into a calm head space to fall asleep when I am depressed. Listening to Disney related music makes me feel happier and more energetic and usually I am able to get more work done after stopping for a 15-20 minute sing-a-long. For a side note, my favorite Disney piece to listen to is the Newsies soundtrack because I absolutely adore Jeremy Jordan who plays Jack Kelly in the original Newsies Broadway production. 

Overall Thoughts

I commonly get the question "How do you still like Disney? Isn't it for children?" My response to that question is that I like Disney because of its positive messages, entertainment value, and overall family friendly appeal. Disney World is a place where I know I can be free of worry for that time and that is something I try to savor every minute of when I am there. I don't have to worry about being "perfect" or the "teachers pet", but instead all I truly need to focus on is having an enjoyable time with my family and creating experiences that will last a life time. If it weren't for Disney, I do not know where I would turn to when my anxiety kicks in or my depression rises, but one thing I do know is that it helps me and many other people deal with their everyday lives in a healthy and positive way.