How To Be Like Rapunzel
Out of all the recent Disney princesses, I gotta say the one that resonated most with me was Tangled’s Rapunzel. To be fair, I haven’t yet seen Moana, but I think it has more to do with relating to the character than the greatness of their story. Rapunzel, for example, is literally a shut-in. She dreams of leaving her tower but is simultaneously terrified of it. As a result she keeps herself extremely busy with practical and artistic pursuits and keeps somewhat of a desperately positive outlook on life – despite her ‘mother’ being a less-than-ideal parent.
For those who admire the princess for her resolve, determinism, and unending optimism, I’ve compiled a list of detailed ways to be more like Rapunzel.
VALUE YOUR FRIENDS, NO MATTER HOW SMALL
For some of us, maybe more than we’d like to admit, our best or only friends are our pets. Despite having a busy daily schedule and a life of almost complete solitude, Rapunzel starts her day by playing with her pet and only friend, the chameleon Pascal. Sometimes in our loneliness we can forget to give proper attention to our friends; to show appreciation and love even though we are feeling blue.
If you’ve been neglectful of your pets or friends, it’s time to rectify that. Set aside time every day to play with your animal companion or do something you’ll both enjoy with a friend. It doesn’t take much time but makes a big impact, and your friendship will only become stronger.
LET IN THE LIGHT AND THE AIR
Another thing this Disney princess does first thing is open the skylight and let in some sunlight. I’m not saying you should throw open your windows in the midst of a -10° blizzard, but getting fresh air and sunshine is not only important to your health but key to invoking the feeling of Tangled.
It’s easy to want to shut yourself up when you’re already feeling cut off from the world (like listening to sad music when you’re already sad) but sometimes what we want isn’t what’s best for us. By opening the blinds and at least stepping outside for a gulp of fresh air you’ll be saying hello to the world and enjoying the day while it’s still there.
DO YOUR CHORES FIRST
Believe it or not, washing the dishes can give you a sense of purpose when you feel like you’re lost in the world. While creative pursuits are extremely important, we all have household duties to do, and in my opinion, the more the better. Taking care of your environment is a form of self-care, and getting everything put in its place and cleaned in the morning means you get to enjoy the rest of the day in your wonderfully fresh space.
Rapunzel, like another notable Disney princess, has a ‘whistle while you work’ policy, and goes about her chores with familiarity, fun and a smile. This is someone who understands that busywork makes a difference in an isolated life.
She even sings the first song of the movie about all the tasks she accomplishes.
“Seven AM, the usual morning line-up
Start on the chores and sweep till the floor’s all clean
Polish and wax, do laundry and mop and shine up
Sweep again, and by then, it’s like seven fifteen”
What separates Rapunzel’s experience from that of, say, Cinderella, is that she doesn’t act as slave to her matriarch. She’s taking care of her own home and taking pride in her work at that. Instead of being a medieval servant she’s more like a normal kid with chores.
EXPLORE ALL YOUR INTERESTS WITHOUT INHIBITION
Always wanted to paint with watercolours or read a 13 book series start to finish? How about taking up French cooking à la Julia Child, or learning a new language? One of the benefits of isolation, self-imposed or not, is the time it affords. Express yourself and pursue your interests without feeling exposed or embarrassed! Rapunzel admits she has too much time on her hands, but fills it with more creative busywork that she enjoys: baking, sewing, painting, reading – typical Disney princess stuff.
The point is, if you’ve already done your chores, you’ve got the rest of your free time to yourself and should take advantage of that. Tangled’s heroine easily could’ve laid in bed all day or lazed around wasting her time until sundown as so many of us don’t even realize we do, but she doesn’t. Fulfillment can come from all kinds of places, but there’s nothing like finally pursuing a dream or, at worst, realizing something you’ve been pining after isn’t actually for you and moving on.
LOVE YOUR PARENTS
Okay, hear me out on this one. I know Mother Gothel was a terrible, kidnapping witch who stole Rapunzel’s life from her, but we’re focusing on the princess’s wonderful traits here, right? Even though her ‘mother’ is emotionally abusive and the two have the occasional fight, Rapunzel loves her mother – because she believes her mother loves her. Loving and appreciating the person, or people, who take care of you can not only be a lovely action but a courageous one.
I am in no way saying that if your guardian is abusive that you should not seek help immediately, but I do know that sometimes, especially as teens, we can demonize our parents and forget all that they do for us. If Rapunzel can love a villain like Mother Gothel, you should be able to show a little appreciation for your parents too, no matter how old you are.
DEFEND FIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER
So you don’t hear this saying used too often in a positive sense, but I believe there’s a good lesson in the way Rapunzel reacts to an unexpected visitor. Terrified of the outside world, our princess catches an intruder (the first person she’s ever seen) and reacts by banging him over the head with a frying pan. I’m not going to say that this is a great approach for day-to-day life, but since most of us are familiar with the concept of perfectly harmless strangers, I’m going to apply it to more extreme situations.
If you are ever made to feel as afraid as Rapunzel was when Flynn Rider broke into her tower; to that great, undeniable degree of fear, act on it. So many of us are taught to grin and bear frightening situations for the sake of politeness or embarrassment. Rapunzel’s take-no-prisoner’s attitude (although she literally does take him prisoner) can serve you well next time you are feeling genuinely frightened. Let her bravery inspire you.
RECOGNIZE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES
Flynn Rider, as we’ve said, is the first contact with the outside world Rapunzel’s had. It’s incredibly brave and smart of her to jump at what may be her only shot to find the floating lights. While we spend plenty of time fantasizing about our dreams, when an opportunity comes along to grasp it fear often takes over. It’s one thing to think about leaving the tower, but could she really do it on her own, or with a stranger no less? Nevermind the guilt she feels in going against her mother’s wishes.
I can think of a handful of times I’ve let opportunities sail right past me out of fear, but you know what? The times I did make the leap – they paid off big time. Take risks is what I’m saying, I guess. You can’t have an adventure without leaving your tower.
By the way, not only does Rapunzel recognize the opportunity and accept it, but she has to fight for it. Flynn isn’t too big on the idea of guiding her around the kingdom, but she doesn’t back down until she gets what she wants. That, my friends, it what life is all about.
CELEBRATE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS, BIG AND SMALL
Just touching the grass was a huge thing to Rapunzel, and we were graced with a pretty long montage of her celebrating it. Not only is the audience amused by her frolicking and pure joy, but we’re happy for her too. Do you remember the last time you felt happy for yourself? Or the last time you really celebrated? Let your joy spill over, feel everything deeply, not just the negatives.
We’re often taught to hide our emotions, especially those of joy. Maybe it’s so others don’t feel bad or something, I don’t know, but it’s absolutely ridiculous. We love watching Rapunzel celebrate, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t too. In fact, it’s one of her most endearing qualities – the childlike way she expresses excitement. It’s marvellous.
A pat on the back or ‘oh yay, great‘ is not good enough. Break out that beaming smile, do a happy dance, let the joy stay with you for the rest of the day. You’ll find there’s a lot in life to celebrate.
SUPPORT OTHERS’ DREAMS
If you hold your own dreams close to your heart, then you should know what it feels like to not be taken seriously or have them be stepped on. Rapunzel appeals to people’s better nature by hearing them out and taking a positive interest in their dreams. So next time you feel like making fun of someone for their interests, no matter how odd, think twice. What would Rapunzel do? If you can’t offer support in making their dreams come true, at least offer some genuine positivity and dream along with them.
Shaming or frowning upon someone’s aspirations sucks. Even if they’re unrealistic in your opinion. Why can’t Gunter be an interior designer? Rapunzel gleefully listens to the thugs’ song about their secret ambitions without any judgement or even a confused look. She feels their joy and reflects that.
KEEP IMPROVING YOUR STRENGTHS
This Disney princess’s hair is, well, her calling card. So it makes sense that it was featured so prominently in the film. She used her hair to get around the tower and play with Pascal, but it’s not until she goes on her adventure that this strength is really brought to light. Throughout the film Flynn and Rapunzel encounter many urgent situations and she continually relies upon her hair to get them out of it, pushing the boundaries of what she thought she could do.
In life we can sometimes get caught up in trying to improve our weaknesses. But if Rapunzel had spent the film trying to learn hand-to-hand combat or smooth-talking like Flynn, she wouldn’t have been as successful. Focusing on your strengths is not only the smarter thing to do, but it’s great for self-esteem. Pushing the limits of your strength and discovering that there really is no limit to what you can do – that is real magic.
Have two friends or maybe siblings who can never seem to get along? While this isn’t your responsibility, if you’d like to help, try mediating. While Flynn and Maximus can’t stand each other, they put up with it because they both care for Rapunzel. Oftentimes a family needs some neutral ground; some totem to hold them together. If you think you can be it, go ahead! Being sweet and reminding both parties why they’re there can be much easier than adding fuel to the fire. Rapunzel never takes sides.
I myself grew up in the middle of two siblings and all three of us fought constantly. It was only recently that I learned it’s much less exhausting to be neutral, and I have a much better relationship with both as a result.
STAND UP FOR YOURSELF
The climax of the film comes when Rapunzel sees Mother Gothel for who she really is – not her mother at all. Despite the princess’s adventure, if she hadn’t stood up to Gothel the movie would’ve come full circle with Rapunzel ending up confined in her tower again. If there is an abuser in your life, whether a bully or a family member or your s/o, the only way to stop the cycle is to seek help and stand up for yourself: these two often go hand in hand. Even though Rapunzel defied Gothel in the end, she needed Flynn’s help to ultimately be rid of her, and this is true for many people suffering in abusive relationships.
However, Eugene may not have been able to help the princess if she was still forgiving of her false mother. If Rapunzel wanted to please Gothel and stay in the tower, he might’ve followed her wishes. Since he knew she was struggling and wanted to be free, he helped her.
Stand up and speak out. You too can break the chain and be permanently free of your prison.
REMEMBER YOUR FRIENDS
Our final scene from the film shows Rapunzel as rightful princess, and all the people ho helped her get home are present. Pascal and Eugene, Hook Hand and Maximus, even a few other thugs. Not only did Rapunzel listen to their dreams before, but she remembered them when she became royal again and used her power to help them realize it.
Disclaimer: I am not a fan of nepotism although I have benefited from it.
Rather than taking this literally and trying to get all your friends jobs at your new workplace, I encourage you to show appreciation to the people who helped you achieve your dream (even a tiny piece) by helping them get theirs. This includes anyone who has supported you: friends, family, acquaintances, even professionals from whom you’ve sought help. It can be surprisingly easy to send a thank you card, or go all out and celebrate with a dinner party! There are so many ways to thank those who’ve helped you, and even easier to find ways to pay it back to them.
Looking for a further call to action? Here’s a challenge that you can apply every weekend, straight from Rapunzel herself (or the Disney Princesses instagram).
How do you channel Rapunzel in daily life? Is there another princess you find particularly inspiring? Comment below or tweet me @FreeAndie.
If you or someone you know has been struggling with abuse please seek help immediately.