Although we all know that it did start with a mouse, my journey began with just one email — little did I know it would've changed my life forever.
The Disney College Program was nothing like what most people would perceive it to be (though the Instagram posts couldn't defend that). It is full of a whole bunch of expectations, hard work, and an umpteen amount of hours on end trying to help fix problems and making light in tough situations; besides all of this comes laughing a million laughs, spending all of what little hours you do have to eat dole whips and take artsy park wall pictures, and most importantly changing each and every day into the person you were always meant to be. There is no service given to customers, or should I say "Guests", like this anywhere else in the world. Here I was taught to have more courtesy for others than ever before, the utmost respect for everyone around you, and a kind and helpful nature that is almost infectious; there is so much hard work put into how well our roles are performed that it could be almost unimaginable to others.
This incredible experience has changed me in ways that I could have never imagined before. I was taught how to be a person everyone would want on their side; a person with better morals than before, an adventurer, someone who's willing to help others, and a person who loves life so much that they couldn't stand the idea of wasting one second of it. Above all else, I believe the DCP humbles you in a way no other experience can — meeting hundreds of thousands of different people from all over the world who fill each room and place with a million different stories is something so truly incredible that it makes you see life in a completely different light, and never knowing what or who was going to walk through the door was the most exhilarating and exciting part. At one point I believed I had hit a dead end with my drive for life, but this program opened me up so much more and thankfully proved me wrong; here I completely exceeded my own expectations of who I thought I could ever be.
I learned to never settle for less than I deserve. I'm curious. I now know what I want out of life and what I deserve. I seek adventure and I want to explore — I feel safe exploring the unknown. I feel strength from criticism and take pride in my flaws. I learned that no dream is too big, and that seeking the hard way out gives you much more satisfaction. I learned to take every opportunity that may come my way and to run with it as fast as I possibly can; most importantly, I finally learned to fall in love with who I am.
Whether good or bad, every person that was put into my life throughout those four months had a purpose and undoubtedly helped shape me into who I am today. From the first incredibly awkward roomie dinner at ESPN to carrying each other out of clubs in downtown Orlando, the friendships made here created bonds that can never be broken. After getting lost in the beach towns hours from home and making unforgettable moments for special families, we've now been forced to resort to FaceTime and planning reunion trips that may seem so far away, but will once again be gone in the blink of an eye. Going through this incredible once in a lifetime experience with these amazing people, whether it be roommates, co-workers, or other random fellow cast members, is something not many can say they've had the pleasure of doing and is the reason why these friendships are so treasured.
With this program came highs and lows - mostly highs - and it is something to be cherished forever. Each passing day calls for reminiscing about the days you'd sit in front of the castle for hours before work, the nights you'd learn how to master passing through the massive firework crowds, and missing it so much that you'd actually find yourself saying what you would give up to be working those 1 a.m. shifts every single night. This was a journey I was only able to dream of until that one email changed my life. Here, in this long yet not long enough 4-month moment, life seemed so simple; everything revolved around happiness, growth, and celebrating life with each day that came to you. Making magic completely changed my life.
So here's to dream chasing — to reaching for the stars as high as you possibly can, to taking jumps from heights that ordinary people would be afraid of, and to conquering the world. The future that never was is right here in this special place; this dream is just beginning.