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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Finding the Beauty Within the Beast

Readers: "Not another Disney reference!"

Me: "Oh yes!"

In a conversation with my mom yesterday, she mentioned how my story was like Beauty and the Beast... except I was the beast. I have always liked the story and the character of Belle, since she is a bookworm, but I have never thought of myself as the character of Beast.

One of my favorite retelling is "Beastly" by Alex Flinn, a modern version of the classic tale. It was the second book to movie that I reversed, reading the book after falling in love with the movie. The main character is not the beloved Beauty we hear so much about, but instead it is the Beast's side of the story. Getting to know the Beast brought an entirely new dimension to the tale. I saw his inner-struggle of wishing to be like his old self, then the acceptance of his new form.

This reminded me of my story before and after student teaching. Before I was a girl with a cushioned life. I never knew of life and its hardships. As my cooperating teacher told me my first semester, I was a spoiled little child that was never made to do anything. (Yes, go ahead and be in shock over the fact that a seasoned teacher got away with calling her student that. It boils my blood that she could call me that, and worse, and never be reprimanded.) Even though it was an uncalled for and very unprofessional statement, there was truth behind it. I had been spoiled in the sense that I had never had to pay bills, keep a clean house, or experience failing.

If I was the Beast in the story, my college professors and first teacher were the witch. Because of them, I was being transformed into something terrible: a bitter, self-loathing individual who would rather die than spend one more day in torment. That was the darkest point in my life.

As the story goes, Beauty enters in the form of a new semester and a new teacher. This teacher was wonderful! She was kind, patient, understanding, and helped me overcome my circumstance. She didn't judge me based on what had happened and gave me everything I needed to succeed. Because of her, I got my confidence back and was able to transform into the adult and teacher I never knew I could be.

I guess this stage could be called the post-transformation stage, when the Prince is finding out he is really like. Finding that his personality is different. Finding that by becoming a beast, he would never be the same as he once was. He will always carry the scars, the memories, and the emotions. He would be better off because of it, but there will always be a part of him that wishes the experience never happened. That maybe there could have been another way.

As if this post wasn't Disney enough, I would like to direct your attention to the following quote:

As wise as this advice is, only we can decide what to do with our past. The decisions we make with what to do with it will effect us for the rest of our days. Let the decision be as wise as Rafiki's advice.

While I continue to deal with the memory of being the Beast, I have to follow this advice. I can either run from it and forget, or learn from it and become stronger and find the beauty within the beast.

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