When I found out last fall that I was accepted into the Disney College Program, a flood of emotions overcame me. Moving to Florida was a mental challenge, and in my four short months in the program, a huge learning experience.
Don't Hold Any Expectations
One of the best decisions I've made before arriving in Orlando was to completely omit any expectations I might've had in regards to what the program would bring me. I didn't expect to live every second in magical bliss, and I also didn't expect to live every second in pure agony. Going in with an open mind brought me to a sense of peace and acceptance.
Without expecting a magical happy-go-lucky time, I knew I couldn't be let down if I did not receive that magical experience. Also without any expectations of misery, I went into the program without dreading it. Basically, I went in expecting nothing, but I ended up receiving more than I could've imagined.
On the plane ride to Florida, I told myself I would accept anything that came my way - the good and the ugly. No matter what these next four months would throw at me, I had an open mind and an open heart to it all.
Speak Up More!
The second biggest lesson I learned was to speak up more. Talking to others is definitely not my strong point, but I figured since I'd only be in this place at this job for such a short while, I better make the most of it to improve myself.
I learned speaking up around new friends, roommates, coworkers, and my leaders made a tremendous impact. Whether it was going into my leader's office and asking to help on a project I really wanted to be a part of...or just simply starting a conversation with someone new, speaking up helped me achieve what I wanted. It helped me forge connections with new people. I still wasn't the most outgoing person on the planet (far from it, actually), but it was a huge leap out of my comfort zone and into the right direction.
The Small Things Matter
I was mostly working behind the scenes at Disney, but whenever I was able to dive into guest interaction, I noticed something as small as a smile or a, "how are you doing, today?" can really make an impact. While training with a full-timer, we handed out a few flowers to random workers we passed by at one resort. It not only made them feel appreciated, but it also made us feel happy knowing that we spread that joy onto others.
I learned even if I am having a cruddy, stressful day, slapping a smile on my face and saying a simple, "hi!" to others can really boost my mood. It's the little things that bring us joy.
Take More Risks
I like to compare the Disney College Program to life: I'm only here for a short while, I'm in an amazing place, I'm surrounded by people of all different cultures and personalities, I have a countless number of opportunities, and I have the chance to make this amazing. I could've left there feeling unaccomplished and regretful of letting the stress get to me, or I could've left there with a feeling of pride and a load of memories.
I'm happy to say that I left with the latter.
I was there for a semester, with the opportunity to meet amazing people, spend all my free time in the parks, and explore the surrounding Orlando area. I was terrified I would leave with regrets, but I left with none.
Life should be the same way. We are here, on this amazing planet for a short period of time (roughly 90 years out of the 4.5 billion that the earth has been around for). We are surrounded by over 7 billion unique and interesting people. We have the opportunity to move to another country, start a conversation with that one person we've been wanting to get to know, leave our cushy current job for our risky dream job, reinvent ourselves, and so much more. We have all these opportunities waiting right in front of us, and we've only got a small sliver of time to chase them all.
Just as I had the opportunity to make the Disney College Program memorable, I have the opportunity to do the same with my life. The program is representative of my life on a much smaller scale. It really opened my eyes to those similarities. It made me realize I need to make the most out of every single day if I want to live a life of no regrets.
I've learned a countless number of lessons while on the Disney College Program, and I cannot be more grateful for it all. Of course I had my lousy days as well as many mental challenges, but it was all worth it in the end. I learned lessons that will stay with me my entire life.