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When I was younger, lions were my favorite animal (that coveted title, for anyone interested, is now occupied by the raccoon). I dressed up as a lion for four Halloweens in a row, I had perfected a roar which I believed to be intimidating, and my naturally curly hair often reached the level of unkemptness where it resembled a mane. In retrospect, I believed I was a lion. So for me, The Lion King was less of a movie with a message than it was a documentary. And a devotion. It was my favorite movie when I was little and I had to rewind the VHS tape to the very beginning in order to watch it, and it is my favorite movie even now, when I can watch it (from the beginning) at the press of a button.
As I’ve grown, I’ve come to understand the message that is conveyed by the animated animals I love. In the movie, Simba is urged to “remember who he is” and to go back to the Pride Lands to reclaim the throne. He has to stay true to who he really is, and he is faced with the realization that no amount of pretending or running can change that. This message has influenced me for close to my entire life, even though I was unaware of it for so long. I have always tried, from as early as I can remember, to be my authentic self. I have, of course, for the sake of politeness, pretended to enjoy some home-cooking which was truly horrible, so my record is not perfect…but I digress.
I have always wanted to be exactly who I am, even as a little girl. Here was a girl dressed up as a lion among a party of princess trick-or-treaters. I’ve never felt any desire to change who I am just to please others, or in order to blend. Much like Simba (yes, I am comparing myself to an animated lion), I stand out. I am a notable person (and no, that is not always a good thing).
As I’ve grown, I have been influenced by people in my life, but I’ve never felt as though I’m becoming untrue to myself; rather, I feel like I’ve had help becoming a better version of the same person I’ve been all along. And I believe I owe this idea of both growing and staying true to myself, of “remembering who I am”, to The Lion King.
Today, whenever I watch The Lion King or even listen to the soundtrack (which, admittedly, is downloaded on my phone) I am reminded of two things that are equally as important in my mind. I am reminded of the message, to stay true to myself even as I grow, and I am reminded of the young girl who genuinely believed she was a lion.
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