Lessons from Moana: There's More Beyond the Reef

In 2016, everyone fell in love with Moana, the lovable girl on a mission to bring her people back to the water. She is strong-willed, headstrong, fearless, and capable. She’s a girl that knows who she is and doesn’t back down from the calling she has been given from a very young age. As she grows up, her family appoints her as an island leader, but she knows she has a different calling. 

When her people’s island is threatened with a darkness that comes from Te-Fiti losing her heart years prior, Moana has this idea that there is more beyond the island reef. Many of her island peers and parents refuse to go beyond the reef in order to find what could be there. Despite the darkness that threatens their civilization and knowing their roots as voyagers, they say no, but Moana is persistent.

Moana knows that there is more beyond the reef and she follows that intuition.

Moana’s knowing of “more beyond the reef” is like a regular everyday inkling that causes people to propel forward when there is more at stake. This is tricky when we bring other’s opinions into the matter, especially that of our parents or people of great importance to us. Moana struggles in the beginning to do what her parents want her to do as the new island leader, but in the end, she follows a call from the ocean and goes on an adventure of learning what it means to follow her heart and calling as a voyager of the sea. 

This story is not just about a girl following her call, but it’s about owning her story and inner intuition: Who she is as opposed to the things other people want her to be.

In my own life, this is very relevant. In many ways, the world tells me I need to be a certain way, have a certain amount of monetary gain, or do a certain type of job. Essentially, be normal. But what is normal? I scribbled in my journal recently that Moana’s Ocean is like My Pen. 

When I was a child, I always knew I was different. I read more summer books, opting out of playing with the neighborhood kids in order to get lost in a story. I spent hours in my room drawing pictures, singing, and writing; I was always one to defy what I was “supposed” to be doing at any point in time. 

And that very mentality has followed me straight into adulthood. I sometimes get stuck feeling like I “should” be in a normal office 9-5. It’s similar to the way Moana felt like she was wrong for wanting the ocean as opposed to being her people’s island leader. In all honesty, I tried the regular office job in college and hated it. Eventually, I went on to another office job sometime after college, thinking it might be different and like that may satisfy other people in my life. But the only person it didn’t satisfy was me and I hated it even more. 

People are meant to be different. There are people suited for regular 9-5 jobs. There are others suited for creative jobs, and others — still — that are meant to be doing other things entirely. If the world had people that were all carbon copies of one another, how wonky and boring would that be? There is more for everyone, but in order to find that more, we must follow our individual calls and have the courage to say yes to them. 

For me, it has always been words. It’s been a long journey of trying to fit into other molds, but I always land back on words. That is what it has always been since picking up a pencil and knowing I could create something out of stringing letters together. For others, it’s like the moment they choose to pick up a musical instrument, sing, or crack a technological code.

For Moana, it was always the ocean. As a kid, the ocean chose her to restore the heart to Te-Fiti by showing it to her. She grew up always thinking it was a dream, but it wasn’t until the heart came back to her later that she realized it was real and that there really was more beyond the reef. 

…If only she would choose to go where she always longed to be

In the same way Moana finally chose to restore the heart to Te-Fiti and step forward into her identity as a voyager of the sea, I must also choose to stop seeing my calling as a far off pipe-dream and instead step forward into my identity as a storyteller and wordsmith, with the knowledge that it is already happening now.

Let this serve as an encouragement to live on purpose, knowing that your calling is already happening now. How are your everyday choices fueling your journey now into deeper calling and identity restoration?