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  • Writer's pictureLoraine Griffiths

Life lessons from the movie Encanto

At this point of my life, I am more than positive that every parent, grandparent, child, even teenager has seen Encanto, and if you didn’t you are seriously missing out. We all know that “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” and that Abuela has some serious triggers in her life, but the lesson I learned was from the underdog Luisa. Luisa is tough and powerful, but below her undeniably intimidating physique is a woman who is wearing many hats in the process. Her big breakout song in the movie is titled “Surface Pressure,” written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. When the beat drops you’re literally dancing in your seat, but then you actually listen to the lyrics, and you are shook.

Here is a piece of the song that hit me so hard:

Line up the dominoes

A light wind blows

You try to stop it tumbling

But on and on it goes

But wait

If I could shake the crushing weight of expectations

Would that free some room up for joy

Or relaxation, or simple pleasure?

Instead, we measure this growing pressure

Keeps growing, keep going

’Cause all we know is

Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop, whoa

Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’til you just go pop,


Give it to your sister, it doesn’t hurt

And see if she can handle every family burden

Watch as she buckles and bends but never breaks

No mistakes


Everyone has their own individual pressures and burdens so I won’t share all of mine with you, but I will touch upon it. This song has empowered me to free myself of crushing weight because maybe, just maybe, it will free up some room for joy.

I am the first-born child of three girls, I have always been extremely independent, but it took certain things in life to mold me into who I am today. My parents divorced when I was young so ultimately, I became nervous and guarded but didn’t know it at that time. I grew obsessed with protecting my sisters because I believed they needed me to do so. Through all this growing that I thought I was doing, I was mentally building up invisible walls so no one could hurt me. As an adolescent I was told that I would never succeed with the grades I had in school. Little did that guidance counselor know my mother was working two jobs and putting herself through college to support the three of us, so I had to grow up fast and help raise my sister so my mom could provide for us and pay the bills. My childhood wasn’t easy, but it could be worse. I always told myself that growing up, be thankful for all you have because someone else out there is struggling too.

If you asked my friends growing up if I was a depressed kid, they would more than likely tell you no. I was always joking and smiling. But man did I feel the pressure inside I would wonder about big life things like… Can my mom pay all our bills? Inside I was suffering.

I think 17 was when those pressures really started for me. I knew my mom had a lot on her plate, so I never asked her for things. My father was around, but he had very high expectations for me that seemed unreachable. I always felt like I wasn’t doing my best, and I could do better, and unfortunately that carried with me into adulthood. I have worked my way up the corporate ladder from a small print shop to Miss America, to the NFL and I still feel like I haven’t accomplished everything, and those pressures are killing my joy.

Daily I find myself walking through life while handling multiple things. I am more than positive any parent reading this is saying, “yes!” I fed my kids this morning, I made my coffee, prepped dinner in the crock pot, packed lunches and read my emails, but I totally forgot to drink my coffee. You’re doing so many things you aren’t being mindful anymore.

Here is what Luisa’s song taught me, there is always going to be pressure; you are going to have to push yourself sometimes, but what is the worst thing that happens if something breaks? You fix it! You take the time to figure out the weak spots, and slowly start to mend it. Deep inside I am still battling that 17-year-old kid that so badly wants to prove herself, but I am so happy that I figured out how to ask for help. I started going to therapy when I was 19; I’m not ashamed to talk about it now because the stigma is slowly dissipating on mental health. I couldn’t say the same thing about it then. I initially was mortified to go to my appointments, but the more I went, the more learned. Like Luisa we aren’t alone, we just need to free ourselves from our thoughts and be honest with those around us how we are feeling so we don’t continue the cycle of anxiety from pressures.

Loraine Griffiths is a fifth-generation Hammontonian, graphic designer, wife and mother of three. She can be reached through email at


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