A Lesson from High School Musical

I know; I’m really late to this party. My girls were too young when the movies came out, but thanks to DVDs and soundtracks, it’s all Wildcats all the time in our house.

Honestly, it’s been a fun departure from the princess movies. I am a big fan of musicals, from Broadway to Grease to Glee. If I could live a life where I broke into song every time I needed to release something, I would be a very happy person (but my husband would be miserable).

But as much as I enjoy HSM (I am into the acronym now), I never thought of it as very deep. I just accepted it as utopian high school, where everyone accepts everybody else, where everybody has fun, where there are no drugs, drinking, or inappropriate behavior.

But to my surprise, I was actually moved to tears during our first viewing of HSM 2. I was sitting on the bed with my computer, “watching” with the girls (when in actuality I was really working), when one of Gabriella’s songs caught my attention.

She realizes that she needs to take care of herself and leave the summer job, leave her friends, and most crushing, leave Troy. When she expresses how she feels she is aware, real and honest. I know, I know, it’s HSM, but just as she began to sing I was making some big decisions of my own.

Like all other moms, I can only take on so many things (work related or otherwise). Many years ago I made a deal with myself that if something new comes in, something needs to go out. I want to keep family time and personal time sacred and I don’t want to feel overwhelmed by too much expectation or obligation.

But in that moment I was trying to figure out how to fit it all in – not because I wanted to, but because I felt that people were depending on me. I didn’t want to disappoint, lose an opportunity, or burn a bridge. Like so many times before (this is a familiar pattern in my life), I was on the verge of putting everyone else’s needs before my own.

And then here comes Gabriella, singing about how sometimes you need to walk away. Sometimes you need to realize your priorities and say good bye. And you don’t need to do it with stress, anger or guilt; it can be warm, honest and sincere.

So all of the sudden I’m crying. And of course, my girls assumed I was crying because she was leaving Troy (which is sad, too), but in reality, I was thinking about me.

I was thinking about all the times I didn’t walk away when I should have (from a person, job or self-imposed obligation), or the times I decided to lie or create drama so I could deflect attention and not fully embrace my decision.

But the song was a good reminder for me – that it’s OK to say no simply because it’s the best choice for me. Part of my job as an individual and as a parent is to take care of myself so I can contribute to my family and the world around me. And that starts with being authentic and not making choices based on what others expect me to do.

So thank you, Gabriella. I just put your song on my mix and I will play it whenever I need the reminder.

Fine, fine, you can all call me cheesy if you want to, but I take lessons when they show up…..I’m not picky about how they get here.

It's so hard to say, But I've gotta do what's best for me You'll be okay……. I've got to move on and be who I am I just don't belong here I hope you understand We might find a place in this world someday But at least for now…. I gotta go my own way

~ Gotta Go My Own Way, from High School Musical 2
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