Note: I have no intention of doing a YouTube video on this. I have too many thoughts about it, it’s more complicated than a craft tutorial, and I express myself much better in writing than I do talking.
I’m not a huge fan of the first Frozen movie, but there’s so much that I love about the second. Namely, the ways they portray depression through music, and specifically, Anna’s experience with grief and Elsa’s “Show Yourself.” Not all of the movie’s narrative on depression is 100% the same as my personal experience, but “Show Yourself” really hits that sweet spot and makes me cry just about every time I hear it.
I could go on about my personal interpretation of the entire soundtrack and how the whole movie flows together in this regard, but for now I’ll stick to how I interpret this particular song in regards to battling with depression and rediscovering your identity.
Figuring out who I am beneath all the anxiety and depression has been a lifelong battle for me, and a particularly agonizing one at times. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to “Reflection” from the animated Disney Movie Mulan and just cried tears of despair, wondering “when will my reflection show who I am inside?” I can still feel a physical pain just thinking about that.
My tears during “Show Yourself” are different. Those are tears of hope. Of understanding. Of wisdom.
Chances are, discovering who you really are underneath your mental illness is not going to come quickly. Nor will it come easily. But when it comes? You’ll be able to look back and see how your identity was clearly reflected in the way you lived your life and interacted with others all along. It was always there. You just couldn’t see your reflection hiding in the shadows.
That’s what it’s been like for me, and that’s what I saw in Elsa’s song.
THERE IS HOPE.
For those of you struggling with the despair of not being able to see yourself clearly, know that it will come. Each new effort you put into discovering yourself will yield fruit even if the seed seems to take years to grow.
One of the best ways to get a clear look at yourself through the mental fog of your illness is to seek validation from those who know you best. Ask them to write down five of your best traits, things they love about you. See if you can focus on those things, actively become them, manifest them in your life. Try to see the good in you that’s obvious to your loved ones. That’s what’s helped me.
Even if you manage to do that, it will still take time. It’s been years since I went through this process and recently I’ve had a lot of experiences that have felt eye-opening to me as I discover my identity. But the work has been worth it. I’m not going to say that I’d be willing to relive everything I’ve gone through for the reward of getting to where I am. Maybe, if I knew everything I knew now, I’d do it. But I’m sincerely grateful that I’ve made it this far and that I get to experience who I am now. The person I’ve become is worth the battles I fought.
“Show Yourself” from Frozen 2
Let’s break down the lyrics from the song now, as they relate to my experience with depression.
I’m really, really trying not to get carried away with all the other meanings and beauty I see in this song.
“Every inch of me is trembling, but not from the cold.”
This is honestly what it feels like when you stumble upon the realization of who you are inside and everything that means.
“Something is familiar like a dream I can reach but not quite hold.”
This is what I’ve ached for. That dream I can reach but not quite hold? That’s the dream of who I want to be. Who I’ve always yearned to be, dreamed of becoming. At times it has just been agonizing to want to be that person so badly and not know if I’ll ever make it, if I’ll ever be that good. But when you start to realize you have indeed gotten there… this is what that feels like.
“I can sense you there like a friend I’ve always known.”
Is it possible to be your own guardian angel? I think, in a way, we all are. I’ve always dreamed of who I’ll once be, and the older I get, the more I look back with compassion and gratitude for who I used to be. I care about my past self more than most people, and I’d go back and help myself in a heartbeat if I could. As a Christian, I believe that our Heavenly Father is there for us now in the way that our future self wishes they could have been, and He has our future selves in mind. He knows what we’ll become, and he’s guiding us there.
“I’m arriving, and it feels like I am home.”
Home. This is what it feels like when you understand your identity. There is no better word or phrase for it.
“I have always been a fortress, cold secrets deep inside. You have secrets, too. But you don’t have to hide. Show yourself.”
The visualization here is just so… perfect. Elsa’s fortress in the first movie was made of ice. She was surrounded by her own reflection constantly, but even then she didn’t see herself. Even though she’s saying she is the fortress, she’s saying she’s never seen herself. She doesn’t even realize that the person she’s looking for is herself yet. This has been true for me in my journey as well.
“I’m dying to meet you. Show yourself. It’s your turn. Are you the one I’ve been looking for all of my life? Show yourself. I’m ready to learn.”
“I’ve never felt so certain. All my life I’ve been torn.”
‘Torn” is what it feels like when you’re not certain of anything, let alone who you are.
“But I’m here for a reason. Could it be the reason I was born?”
Discovering your identity, who you are on the inside… That is the reason. That is the reason we’re born. To match our truest potentials. To work towards that goal. To discover the truth of our divinity.
“I have always been so different. Normal rules did not apply.”
Who doesn’t feel like this applies directly to them? Honestly. And perhaps those of us who struggle with mental illness feel it more deeply than others.
“Is this the day? Are you the way? I finally find out why?”
Our true callings are tied in with our divinity and identity. Yes. Yes. Yes.
“Show yourself. I’m no longer trembling.”
I can feel my heart start to soar with these words. The point when you’re no longer trembling is, in my experience, the point when you’ve taken in the reality of what your identity is and now feel joy. The point when you’re ready to take that identity and soar yourself.
“Here I am.”
I just have to say, this is just a fantastically beautiful way to tie this song back to “Let it Go.”
“I’ve come so far.”
Yes. Yes yes yes. We all have. We have all come so very far.
“You are the answer I’ve waited for all of my life. Oh, show yourself. Let me see who you are.”
Here comes that beautiful connection. Realizing you are exactly the kind of person you admire most, realizing you’ve come farther than you ever realized before.
“Come to me now. Open your door. Don’t make me wait one moment more.”
“Oh, come to me now. Open your door. Don’t make me wait one moment more.”
“Where the north wind meets the sea, there’s a river full of memory. Come my darling, homeward bound.”
There’s a moment where all of your past, all memories of everything you’ve ever been, connects with the realization of who you are, who you’ve always been. The beautiful, amazing, special unique person you wanted to be and never saw before.
“I am found.”
“Show yourself. Step into your power.”
This is when you’re ready to move forward with the knowledge of who you are. And it’s glorious.
“Throw yourself into something new.”
Even though nothing has changed except for the way you see yourself, everything feels new and exciting and… well, glorious.
“You are the one you’ve been waiting for (all of my life) all of your live.”
Realizing this is beautiful.
“Oh, show yourself.”
Whether you need more time to incubate or whether you feel ready to step into the world with this new understanding, showing yourself to yourself is one of the most powerful transformations you may ever go through.
While there will likely always be one you can look back on as the most transformative, and if you have mental illness it will likely be tied in with that, the neat thing is you will likely continue to have these moments throughout your life. They will never stop being special.