Be True to Yourself

Watching the Disney live-action movie Mulan, I am struck with the messages contained with in the story. The story is simplistic, as all legends are, but lovely. There are many messages, or themes, in the story. They emblazoned four on the sword, therefore those get focused on the most: Loyal, Brave, True, and Devotion to Family. Many viewers pick up on the additional themes around misogyny and gender equality, honor, and duty. A few even see her search for identity. But what resonates with me is that it’s a story that says to be true to yourself.

Two manikins with blank faces illustrate how many people try to hide their true selves.

The hardest thing to do is to be true to yourself, especially when everybody is watching.

Dave Chappelle 

She Doesn’t Fit In

The story starts with a young Mulan whose antics cause problems for her and her family. An older Mulan’s mother helps her dress, does her hair, and her makeup. Transformed into a “normal” young woman, her mother and younger sister accompany her to the Matchmaker and disaster happens again. Mulan and her family despair that she’ll ever fit in.

She Hides Her True Self

The emperor calls for a son from each family in the village to join the army. With no sons in his family, Mulan’s father plans to volunteer. The night before his planned departure, Mulan disguises herself as a man, leaves her family and home, and enlists.

Mulan learns in recruit training she is not as strong as most of the men. She “loses control” during sparring and uses her special skills and wins the fight. But she fears that the attention will mean discovery of her gender and expulsion from the army and dishonor to herself, her family, and her village. So she hides her talents again and fights the way all the recruits fight. 

She Decides to Be True

Authenticity is very important – be true to one’s self.

Laila Ali

Mulan fights well until she meets a foe who “sees” that she hides something. And she loses the fight. Finally, she has the courage to be true. True to her gender. True to herself. She comes clean to her fellow soldiers and commander. There are consequences.

I won’t spoil the end of the movie. But by being true, Mulan comes into her power. The story is an inspiration to all people, young and old.

Live Your Truth

image of a sandy beach, footsteps in the sand lead to a woman in the distance. she walks alone in her true self

It takes courage to live your truth. It requires introspection and the honesty to recognize what is true. That truth often makes you different. Being different is often difficult.

Someone true to themselves is also open-minded and respects others. That can also be difficult. But after you gather information, you make your own decisions.

If you make choices in alignment with your fundamental self and you gain self-respect.  

Some of us learn to be ourselves through painful life-lessons like Mulan. Many of us don’t have clarity about their true selves for a very long time. Few of us ever find power like Mulan’s. That’s okay. Life offers lessons every single day. Open-minded and learning, the true you may change. As long as you continue to learn, as long as you make choices from an authentic place, you will be authentic. Being true to yourself is your superpower.

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