It's not surprising to many that there are little life lessons in almost every single children's movie today. As I found myself watching Moana (guilty) I thought more and more about the life lessons that are overflowing in that movie. Most importantly, I found that these lessons from Moana were most easily applied towards first-generation college students and how they, too, can operate the college experience.
1. We're told we can't follow our dreams.
We’re told that we can’t follow our dreams because we’re meant to do different things, such as going straight to work and doing what our family has always done. Much like how Moana wanted to go to the sea and was told she never could, first-generation college students yearn for a college education.
2. Everyone has always done the same thing, so why wouldn't we?
Everyone has always done the same thing and nothing ever changes. Even though we want to go to college, we never have the chance to because we don’t know how to. Moana’s islanders always did the same thing and therefore, in the beginning, she stuck with that. However, much like Moana did, first-generation students ultimately go for their own dreams.
3. Sometimes all we need is just one cheerleader to keep us going.
Moana’s grandmother supported her dream of going beyond the reef while everyone else goes against the idea entirely. First-generation college students have that one person that supports the dream while everyone else tells them they can’t do it. Sometimes, that’s all we need is that one person telling us we can do it when everyone else tells us no.
4. Someone is always watching and learning from our every move.
Pua the pig in Moana follows her every move, following her decision-making process, learning from her mistakes and celebrating her victories. This same thing happens to first-generation students as their own younger siblings, cousins and friends are watching their processes and learning from them.
5. No matter what setbacks come, you have to try again.
As Moana began wondering what life was like beyond the shore, she tried and tried again to do what she could to get beyond the shore. At first, when she tried, she got set back, but she tried again. As first-generation college students, we’re bound to be set back by something whether that be high prices for housing, tuition, food or just no one to ask questions to. But the most important part of the set back is the retrial.
6. If you believe in yourself, that's all that really matters in the end.
Moana had times in her journey where she kept getting told no. However, it was through her belief in herself that she was able to achieve her final goal. As first-generation college students, it is only the belief in ourselves that could ultimately be enough to continue fighting through everyone telling us no.
As one of these students myself, I understand the struggles of trying to navigate the college experience with no one to really ask questions to. But with these six lessons in mind, the experience and the struggles altogether may seem just a little more worth it in the end.
After all, "One day I'll know, if I go there's just no telling how far I'll go."