“What’s Wrong with Me” What Disney’s Moana Teaches Us All About Anxiety and Identity

OK. So I know I’m a bit late to the game but I recently watched Disney’s Moana and I’m completely in love. In a wonderful departure from “waiting for the prince to save me” movies of my childhood, Moana depicts a true heroine. The movie is a great adventure journey but the true conflict in the story is one of identify. Moana struggles throughout the film with this central question “Who Am I?” This is a question many of us ask ourselves and when we are distant from the answer, it can fill us with anxiety. In fact, lack of connection to ourselves and our identity is, in my opinion, the leading spiritual cause of anxiety. In watching Moana tackle her own identity we can learn how we can better connect to our own higher selves and help our children find theirs.

So in this movie Moana has two duelling destinies. As a child, she is chosen to voyage across the ocean to restore the heart of Tafiti but as the daughter of the village chief, she is expected to take over as chief of the village. She feels drawn to the water but also a lot of shame and frustration about this desire which she expresses in “How Far I’ll Go.” Moana does what many of us do when confronted with this type of conflict, it’s so uncomfortable to hold two opposite positions at the same time, that she blames herself crying “what is wrong with me?”

This tension between others expectations and listening to our own inner voices is all to familiar. Watching Moana try and navigate this phase of self discovery can bring to light how we mange this role in our own journey and how we support the children in our lives as they discover theirs. Are we meeting this challenge with an authoritarian perspective, creating rigid rules like Moana’s father? Are we consolatory like Moana’s mother who cautions "Sometimes who we wish we were, what we wish we could do—it’s just not meant to be" Or are we meeting this conflicts with wisdom, trusting in the questioners ability to find their own answer?

In the end Moana is able to listen to herself and follow her calling. She finds her identity as a voyager and claims both her identity and her purpose. This culminates in the song “I AM MOANA” where she is able to acknowledge the voice was not something calling from outside of her but coming from inside her. In doing so is she able to loose her anxiety over her identity. She becomes the confident heroine who voyages across the ocean and in doing so is then better able to lead her village. Her anxiety is resolved because she is living in congruence with her purpose. Even though she faces challenges, she faces them confidently with a sense of purpose and identity.

This is what we all want for ourselves and our children. To feel confident in why we are here so that challenges placed in our path can be met from a place of purpose. This is what comes from creating space to listen to our higher selves and honouring the gifts we have received. Moana reminds us that we all have a calling, and that being separated from it can cause us a great sense of anxiety which can be resolved simply by reconnecting.