Though some may call me a “fake fan” because I only became aware of this musical after it swept the Tony Awards and became mainstream news, it doesn’t take away any of the importance of its story. Dear Evan Hansen is painfully relatable for anyone who has ever felt invisible or alone. It offers us a glimpse into the life of the titular character, Evan, who suffers from severe social anxiety. The fact that mental illness is even being treated directly mentioned as part of a character is revolutionary, and this musical does a beautiful job of addressing it. Instead of treating Evan like he is only his illness, his anxiety is treated as a setback- just something that makes certain tasks more challenging. Evan’s longing to be accepted and loved by those around him makes him an incredibly relatable character.
The thing that I think makes this musical great is that it shows humanity- the fact that no one really knows what they’re doing. We are often plagued by self-doubt and the fear that we won’t meet other people’s expectations, and some people can handle these better than others. It often seems like the easiest thing to do is to, as Evan put it, “step out of the sun.” Eventually, Evan finds something that provides him a way of making meaningful connections with people. In the end, it does not pan out the way he planned, but it helped him to connect with people that he never thought he would. Taking a step outside of his comfort zone provided him with the acceptance and love that he wanted, and I think we could all learn a lesson from this.
Evan’s mother, from the very beginning, worries if she will be able to provide for him on her own. She tries to be there for Evan but, like everyone else, she isn’t sure how to get through to him. Like rest of us, she’s just figuring it out as she goes along. Evan was scared to ask her for help for a long time because he didn’t want to burden her, but she tells him he should never be scared to come to her for whatever he needs. Telling someone that you need them is sometimes difficult because we don’t want to cause them any added stress or pain, but anyone who truly cares about you will want to know that something is wrong. Don’t shut people out if you need them, and make sure that your loved ones know you are willing to help them and that they are not an extra burden on you.
I am not the biggest Broadway fan out there, and I am not ashamed to admit that the only other musical I’ve listened to in its entirety is Hamilton. However, when a story as unique as Dear Evan Hansen comes along, I am all for it because I know for sure that this is going to reach out and touch so many people who relate to the struggles that these characters face, and as a result, these people will feel a little less alone. For anyone out there doubting themselves, just know that you are not invisible. It may take some time, and there will be rough spots along the way, but believe me when I tell you, you will be found.