On magic and mindfulness

Desperately trying to find other material I cared enough about to put some space between politically charged posts, I was delighted to open my computer today and discover that applications for fall Disney internships had opened just this morning! I participated in the Disney College Program (DCP) during the fall of 2013 (my sophomore year) and have wanted to go back in a more professional role ever since; however, in agreement with my parents, I had to get my degree first.

I graduated this past December, and had applied to many spring internship opportunities with Disney that I would have started only a few weeks ago — if only I had applied to ones I was even remotely qualified for, and not just ones I thought sounded charming or prestigious. I am an experienced public relations graduate with considerable involvement in project management and an extensive background in education and presenting. I was not — much to my dismay — experienced in wedding planning at the time of my application, nor did I — or do I — speak more than one language. And I only applied to 3 of ’em.

Since Professional Internship (PI) apps opened this morning, I’ve applied to 6 different positions in PR, communications, events, and leadership, and hope to submit applications for positions in the education department tomorrow. Ideally, I’ll be able to have some small update about my applications every other blog post or so, and then this coming summer or fall this blog will be chronicling my adventures with Disney or the Smithsonian!

For now, I want to use this space to talk about how important the DCP was to me. If you didn’t know — and it’s likely maybe two of you do — I created a vlog for my college program. By the last video I made, I had 300 subscribers on YouTube (and somehow still have them), and my most popular video had around 8k views. That’s not a famously high count by any means, but it’s enough that recreating an internship vlog is something I plan on doing if I am selected for one of these internships, wherever it may be. I loved making the videos, and people responded! That’s what I’m here for!

All right. Working for Disney.

It was hard. Magical, sure, of course — we literally had training classes on how not to ruin the magic accidentally for children — but hard. I broke down in the storage room 2 months in because I still didn’t know where everything was and just wasn’t fast enough, not to mention my feet hurt, I had mega stress acne, my “costume” looked ridiculous on me, and my parents were three states away. I’d found the DCP in middle school and looked forward to it for yearsand what I got was not what I expected.

It was exactly what I needed.

School had been basically on autopilot my entire life, never requiring much introspection or self-awareness — until I got to college. All nighters were devastating to my psyche, not because I was tired but because I was failing at something that used to be better than easy. Every low score was a judge of my character, not of my aptitude in a standardized subject, and every hour spent rereading the material proved not that it was difficult, but that I was inherently too stupid to understand it at all.

I’d loathe to start assignments because I knew I wouldn’t get them perfect — and what’s the point if they weren’t perfect? — and so became a procrastinator, where in earlier school years I’d been unfailingly “work then play.” Procrastinating assignments made them even less impressive than I imagined, which led to stress, which led to more procrastinating, which led to more stress, and anxiety, and the absolute inability to take the necessary step back to deal with everything I was feeling.

So I went to Disney World, and it worked.

After I allowed myself my 2-month-mark breakdown, I realized I was surrounded by likely the largest, most supportive network of people I would ever come across, from my leaders and coworkers to my new roommates here with me and my family missing me back home. I realized that living and working in an area where one might interact with hundreds of people from all over the world in a single day, just passing through your life, was exhilarating, and almost sacred. I realized that the world was so much bigger than the forum posts and essays and research and PowerPoints I was never not anxious about, and that I really, really needed to take a few hundred deep breaths to make up for it all.

Now, I didn’t learn about self-awareness as a concept — and certainly didn’t learn about mindfulness — through this program. But I started to pay attention. What I did learn was that I was allowed to be not-great at something and still have value. My leaders showed me that. From my roommates, I learned to try things with my full heart, even if I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it, and it would be more fulfilling than if I knew everything and had done it perfectly the first time. From my coworkers, I learned to watch, listen, and understand, and that that’s what could bring magic to my life, not fireworks or make-believe.

And from my parents, I learned that working in Disney World for the rest of my life was not a viable second option to getting a college degree.

Since I’m not trying to make this sound like a “why I want the job” essay on an application, I’ll spare you the summation of what I could offer Disney by going back to work with them. Hopefully they see that on my resume. I do, however, want to charge you with taking your own step back and for a moment viewing your life as an impartial, third-party observer. Who do you appear to be? How are your actions affecting others? And how are they affecting your own self?

This entire post has become a roundabout way of saying that we all should try to be kinder and more compassionate to ourselves and others. The world will remain tense, anxious, and self-destructive if we keep refusing to pay attention and listen. Make a conscious effort today to be mindful, and again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, until it’s second-nature. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

And if you’re planning a trip to Disney this fall — I hope to see you there!

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Published by

Tiffany Joy Clark

Assistant Coordinator for Education at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center B.A. Media and Journalism

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