I know you haven’t had the best luck with your birthday. It’s at an odd time of the year; “not quite summer,” as I like to call it. You’ll be taking a lot of tests on your birthday, including AP Calculus. Sorry to spoil that for you but you should also know that you got a good score on that test. However, you probably remember your third birthday pretty vividly since I can still recall the details. It was when your worst fears were realized.
You spent this birthday at Chef Mickey’s in Walt Disney World. Mom’s uncle thought that this venue was perfect. What kid would not want to meet their idol from Saturday morning cartoons in a chef’s outfit? You were enjoying your chicken tenders until you suddenly dropped one, seeing that larger-than-life-sized Mickey and Donald were coming over to each table. Kids surrounded them and tugged on their chef coats and even then you knew most children jumped at this opportunity with any costumed character. But where were you? Hiding under the table, crying.
Thus, you discovered that you have masklophobia: the fear of costumed characters. The few children who are afraid of these figures usually overcome their masklophobia in a couple of years after the first encounter, so mom and dad thought that this was just a phase. It turns out that this “phase” lasts another seven years. In that time, you won’t be able to redeem yourself from that terrifying experience that our parents thought was an overreaction. You’ll continue to avoid sports team mascots, costumed birthday party entertainers and several different mall Santas and Easter Bunnies. Tablecloths will be your shield for a while before graduating over to strategically timed bathroom breaks.
I know you’ll probably be embarrassed from remembering this story. You won’t hear the end of it from your family even though you will eventually get over your fear. But there is a bright side to it. You’ll go back to Disney World years later and be like every other kid running toward Mickey Mouse. You’ll feel like you underwent character development from the Chef Mickey’s experience.
Heck, you’ll even use that memory to get accepted to the University of Georgia before turning them down for Florida State to pursue your dream of working in Orlando. Your career goals went all over the place, from a firefighter to an actress to an Imagineer to finally a Data Analyst (you’ll learn what that is later). Obviously, you’ll grow a liking for theme parks, hence the Orlando dream. You have to admit, working at Disney would be pretty cool!
Moral of the story: you do know there’s a person inside the costumes, right? Just kidding, I know you know that. That’s why our family still laughs about it today. The true moral is that you’ll grow to love Disney and it will clearly influence your career aspirations. You’ll want to listen to yourself more and do things for yourself rather than trying to please everyone. That’s a mistake I made, the fact that I didn’t proactively follow my dreams until later. Yes, it is important to be selfless, but when it comes to your life goals, work on those over trying to become someone you’re not. You’re good at math, stick with the math. You love Disney, stick with that, trust me. You’ll have a fair share of Disney trips while living in Florida for college and those trips are much nicer when you keep in touch with your inner child after growing up.
One last thing: maybe try to go to Chef Mickey’s again. There’s something great about full-circle moments and redemption arcs. But for now, happy hiding!
All the love,