~ Ursula, Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Studio Ghibli is amazing, simply put. They have consistently produced amazing movies that I have been able to enjoy even now, a couple days from 23 years old. Last night, as I was working on a project, I played Kiki’s Delivery Service, which was a gift from my match on redditgifts. I have, of course, taken the time to watch these movies now and again on the internet, but it’s different to be able to hold the movie in my hands. The last time I did, it was a VHS, and that was at least fifteen years ago. It was the first Studio Ghibli film that I had watched, and I might’ve been five or six when Mom purchased it. Upon watching it again, I’m finding more and more reasons to love it.
There are a lot of correlations to how I was at Kiki’s age, actually. (That whole witch thing included, to be fair.) But that’s neither here, nor there. Studio Ghibli films always have this way of making a point, or having a moral to the story. It’s kind of neat, because they don’t make it completely obnoxious. You follow the failings and redemptions of each character in each of the stories. I just so happen to have always resonated with Kiki’s. Her story is about learning to believe in herself — in what she is able to accomplish. It so happens that this is my story, too.
“I think there’s something wrong with me. I meet a lot of people, and at first everything seems to be going okay, but then I start feeling like an outsider.” ~ Kiki, Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
There was a year between when I started college, and finished high school. Most folk from my town who wait that long never end up going to college. There was that stigma as I cashiered in a grocery store. There was a point where I would believe the general opinion myself — this negative mindset wherein I would be completely stuck in my town, unable to move forward. (But that’s another story.) When I got to school for my first semester at SUNY Oswego, I felt like a fish out of water. It was exciting, this college campus. It was also overwhelming.
I was always the quiet kid — the one that did all her work and never said a word. I hated working in groups or doing presentations. (Who am I kidding!? I still hate that stuff! I’m just used to it now.) But here, there are these classes that require some kind of verbal participation. At first, I didn’t believe in myself enough to feel confident to speak up. (And yes, I still have moments like this.)
“All right, first: don’t panic! Second: don’t panic! And third: did I mention not to panic?“ ~ Jiji, Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
I have an adviser who was also the professor for the poetry class that made me reevaluate what writing really meant. Hers was the first class where you’d get grades on how much you spoke in class — and was the first to tell me that I had smart things to say, and that if I didn’t — surely I would fail. I was only a Sophomore, and taking an upper division writing course. The rest of my class was comprised of Juniors and Seniors. It was my third writing class, and first upper division course for college in general. I felt inadequately prepared to discuss anything, let alone critique everyone else’s poetry in workshop.
Fast forward to now. I have been a Teacher’s Assistant in the largest lecture available for my major. I have done presentations for large audiences due to that job. I had to hold a conversation at dinner with some of the coolest professional writers I’ve ever met. (Including one of my favorite poets, discovered in aforementioned class.) I have started a club, and speak every week to a decent sized group of students. I have learned to run a tarot share workshop, and am planning another workshop combining tarot and writing. I sometimes speak up in class first. I also sometimes read my work aloud at public events. So much has changed since those early days of college, and I am happy for that. You really never know what’ll happen next, but I’m finding it’s important to try something. Anything.
“Jiji, I’ve decided not to leave this town. Maybe I can stay and find some other nice people who will like me and accept me for who I am.” ~ Kiki, Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
It’s not important so much how others perceive you, I’m finding. It’s gonna be more important to be your own inspiration — to find your own voice. It’s incredibly difficult to convince yourself otherwise. (Look, it took me years, and I am still working on some aspects.) But once you do, it get much easier to keep being inspired, in little ways, no matter where you go or what you do. So don’t worry. Just write. Or speak. Or dance. Just do whatever it is that you do — wait and see what happens.