So here is a challenge; without using the internet remember the moral of Disney’s Aladdin. Not the love story plot but the didactic moral….. I’ll wait.
So I rewatched Aladdin over the weekend and was fairly flawed by the poignancy of the message which, for me at least, had been subsumed in my memory by the plot. The struggle with identity and feelings of self worth is something I have obviously covered on this blog before and so it was astounding that I hadn’t landed on Aladdin as a talking point before.
From very early on we see Aladdin and Jasmine struggle with feeling trapped by societal conceptions of their identity and roles within the world. Both characters feel that their station in life denies them the freedom and opportunities that they crave. Now this is very touching stuff and the plot points about breaking free of societally assigned roles is also very important but the bit that I want to zero in on the the middle and final act tension in Aladdin’s character. The tension created by wishing to be a prince.
Al sees this wish as his only way to catch the eye of Jasmine and win the freedom he craves but very rapidly we see that not only does this metaphorically and literally trap him further it also poisons the very thing he sought. Al becomes unable to be free in himself. Lying about being a prince traps him in a cycle of lies that he cannot see an exit point form. All his friends tell him to come clean but for him the truth is no longer an option.
Once the truth is forced on him, by a very canny princess, Aladdin is shown that those around him will accept him for his internal value and love him all the same. Jasmine doesn’t rebuff him and the Sultan is won over by his courage and kind-heartedness that he changes the law to allow Aladdin to marry Jasmine.
It struck me that the struggle shown in Aladdin is one we all face at various stages in our relationships; particularly at the genesis of new romantic relationships. It is incredibly tempting to try and be the person your potential partner wants you to be. To make minor editations to your likes, personality and tastes to be more appealing to someone who you want to impress. But here there be dragons dear reader, here there be dragons. As we see in Aladdin, lying begets lying. You will likely never be happy being someone else – just to be ‘loved’.
The person the partner ‘loves’ at that point isn’t you. At best it is the you you wish you could be. That is a fate worse than death – the constant and pervasive insecurity borne of not knowing if the truth were to come out if the person by your side would stay there. The thing that makes this nightmare truly horrid though is the knowledge that you put yourself in that situation that it was a lack of courage or self belief that has condemned you to fear.
Fortunately the solution is one we have discussed before. Love yourself. Love yourself deeply and fully and know that, like Aladdin, you too are truly, uniquely and immensely worthy of being loved by others. I accept that this isn’t always simple or easy, I too still struggle here. But the best thing you can teach yourself is self love, it is a habit, you can make it easier by doing it more often. Tell yourself every day that if Aladdin is worthy of love so are you.
Obviously this type of thinking applies later in our relationships as well. Whenever we feel compelled to be a bit different, to be more like everyone else. Stay strong stay in love with the real you. The you that only you really know. Nothing and no one is worth compromising that for.
Importantly always remember that those that love us, like Jasmine loved Aladdin, will forgive us for our foolishness and embrace us in our honesty. Take those opportunities to reconcile your exaggerations and half truths, the things you’ve said to please a lover or a friend with the real you and you will be happier and freer for it.
Remember – you are worth loving for the wonderful mess that you are.