The girl that sat next to me in my fifth-grade math class had purple hair and dreamed of being a hairdresser. My best friend was the most advanced reader in the school and thought he could be an author one day. The boy who I had football catches with during recess was 5’11” and wanted to be a basketball star in college.
Each of my elementary school friends had their own little quirks which distinguished them from everyone else, but I was still trying to find mine. I wanted to differentiate myself from the rest of the kids my age. I wanted to be special because everyone around me was.
I felt like I would never be unique because I lacked the self-confidence to fully stand out. I had family, friends and teachers that cared about me, but my self-esteem wasn’t as developed as the kids around me. While other kids were super athletic or talented, I had yet to find a place in the neighborhood.
In fifth grade, I watched the movie “A Bug’s Life.” The Disney Pixar movie, a story of an ant sticking up for his colony against grasshoppers, was supposed to be a fun way to end the week before winter break. Everyone in my class laughed at the film, but I found a deeper meaning behind it.
Each ant had their role in the colony and their own identity. In my own colony at school, kids were naturally different, whereas my individuality wasn’t apparent yet.
I went home that day with the main character, Flik, on my mind. He was a simple ant in a world of bigger and better bugs, but what separated him from the rest was his confidence. Flik believed his species was capable of more than just existing, inspiring me to dream as big as he did.
If my vision in fifth grade was a seed then my future goals were a tree, and all it would take is some confidence for the seed to grow. Flik knew what it would take to grow a tree, but as he told the little ant Dot, “You just have to give yourself some time.”
Flik did not focus on his reputation, instead he worked toward becoming the ideal version of himself. He encouraged me to find my confidence by exploring the things I’m passionate about, like sports, reading and writing, in hopes of achieving my goals of living in a big city and becoming successful in whatever path I chose.
The next day, I walked into school and sat down for our fifth-grade winter assembly. While everyone was celebrating the holidays, all I could think about was my new dream of one day becoming a college student in a city with a job that makes me happy.
Dreaming big seemed like a daunting task for an 11 year old, but while searching for my identity, I began to feel like I could become the best version of myself — an older me who is happy no matter the circumstances.
I gave myself the time to work hard at the things that brought me joy and eventually became confident in my own abilities when I received recognition for my writing. With Flik’s words of wisdom in mind, I found it easier to work towards my goals and grow my self-esteem.
I slowly became more involved inside and outside of school and participated in activities that allowed me to interact with more people which aided my goals and confidence.
Today I feel like I’m well on my way to becoming the person I dreamed of all those years ago. I have plenty of self-confidence and I’m willing to focus on how I view myself instead of how society views me.
Although it’s just a childhood animated movie for many, “A Bug’s Life” inspired me beyond the surface-level heroism.
Flik helped me cultivate the confidence needed to approach my goals and realize they can become reality. With the assurance of a bug, I’m well on my way to securing the identity I feared I could never achieve.
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