StMU Research Scholars

Nuestro Encanto

It goes without saying that the young adults of today’s generation have definitely felt some type of pressure when it comes to not only growing up in an everchanging world but having to adapt to the role’s society demands of us. While we all carry the weight of societal expectations, it has become evident over the past couple of years that college students have felt not only the pressure but also the stress of the whole world depending on them. It is ironic to think that the natural perception of why college students are in school is to better their future and while that may be true it is important to acknowledge that sometimes the reason goes beyond our self-betterment. It has very much become about how we as students can help others through our degree not what our degree can do to help us. This feeling is nothing new however, when the ones you love the most see you as the light at the end of the tunnel you feel as if you need to contain your feelings out of fear that expressing any emotion that does not radiate confidence may make you seem weak in their eyes. Being a student comes with a standard of succeeding that must be maintained not only through your academics but through the way you portray yourself to others. What many people outside of the college world have failed to realize is that identifying yourself as a student comes with internal requirements that at times carry the mental weight of an eighteen-hour semester schedule. You balance the stress of not only taking care of your family at an early age, attending university, and handling all that life throws at you with grace, with your classes, social life, and GPA. These standards not only need to be met but exceeded. While multiple movies have attempted to portray just exactly what it means to be a college student, personally none of them have done the job that Disney’s Encanto has. It is strange to think that a movie that was originally intended to reach a childlike audience has created an environment that has allowed young adults to find their voice through a simple song called “Surface Pressure”. It is important to note that the movie is filled with symbolism and allusions that could ultimately aid the college student perspective however, this article will focus on the emotional musical performance of “Surface Pressure” by Luisa and how through her words she was able to captivate the emotions as well as worries of students but college students especially.

Luisa feeling weak

Now who is Luisa you may be asking? She is known to many as the “buff lady”, and she is the second oldest sister to the film’s protagonist Maribel MadrigaI. In the movie Encanto the Madrigal family was blessed with superpowers such as the power of healing, the ability to control the weather, and many more when Abuela Alma’s husband was killed as he was trying to flee his town after a civil unrest. However, Maribel is the only one who does not have a power. As the generations of the family continue to grow into adulthood a crack begins to appear on the walls of the enchanted casita, it is then that Maribel begins a mission to find out what is going on. She seeks help from her older sister Luisa, who is tough and has superhuman strength however, when asked what is wrong, she expresses her fears and weaknesses but also lets her guard down through a musical emotional meltdown. Before the song even beings you can see that there is an abundance of emotion that is just waiting to be released.

Luisa then breaks off into a song where she begins with self-proclamations such as “I’m the strong one I’m not nervous I’m as tough as the crust of the earth is I move mountains I move churches and I glow ’cause I know what my worth is” which I believe is a great indicator of how we all are when we portray ourselves to others. See as we move on through our college experience one thing that we are told is that we have to sell ourselves, meaning we are our greatest advocate and in order to gain any type of internship what matters is how we are perceived not how we are feeling. The beginning portion of the song is a prime example of how it is so much better to just believe everything is perfect than actually coming to terms with the reality of what life is. As a college student I have come to realize that the way we choose to tackle any major inconvenience is not the healthiest. Take for example getting a bad grade on a test when we know we have done bad so we avoid it. We will purposefully not look on canvas for two weeks because we know the outcome is not what we would have liked. However, I do not believe that is our fault. We have been coached to get good grades and when we receive anything less than an A rather than accept it, we beat ourselves down and question if we are even worth being here? This type of mindset leads us into why more than half of college students in the past year had a psychiatric disorder. According to the National Library of Medicine It was found that almost half of college students had a psychiatric disorder particularly alcohol uses disorders. While the treatment rates varied amongst disorders there were overall less than 25% of students with disorders seeking treatment. There have been numerous reports in regard to the mental health of college students in fact it has indicated a growing concern and has been the subject of attention for different agencies. While there has been no timeline study in 2006 the national survey of counseling centers released that 92% of college directors believe that the number of students who have severe psychological problems has increased drastically. The introduction to the song overall fits the example of what a perfect college student is, and it also allows us insight into how we rather bottle everything up then just accept that things are not perfect.

Luisa feeling the weight of the world

As the song moves on Luisa confesses “under the surface I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring circus under the surface was Hercules ever like ‘yo I don’t wanna fight Cerberus?’ under the surface I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service”. We all have a breaking point in college, we call those mental breakdowns. However, these breakdowns have now been normalized to the point where it has become fine to have them every week, my question is, is that really fine? When Luisa starts to express just exactly how she is feeling it is exactly similar to when college students express their concerns with their professorAccording to active minds a program that was set to help students who are dealing with mental health problems, more than 80% of college students have felt overwhelmed by all they have had to do and 45% have felt hopeless. Now to make matters worse there is an enormous lack of services on college campuses. The American Psychological Association has stated that the ratio of certified counselors to students is about 1 to 1000-2000 for a small campus and 1:200-3500 for larger schools. Students just need support. It is the moments where we feel least motivated when we just need to remember that we are great and exceptional beyond academics. As we express our downfalls it is time that we uplift ourselves at the same token. As college students we must learn that we are not worthless and that we can in fact learn how to juggle the responsibilities of helping someone else while also helping ourselves. While we have to identify as a student, we need to realize our self-worth. We are more than just a school email and we are more than students we are the future of whatever we make possible. We deserve to be happy. Nosotros tambien necesitamos nuestro encanto.

Overall, it is important to note that as we continue to make developments in the areas of education and technology it is also massively important that we begin to recognize the difficulties of being the student. What I have noticed throughout my time in the education system is that people will tell you they care, they will tell you that they are ever there if you need it, and they will attempt to make you feel better and that is great. However, I believe there should be a public policy that is implemented to help college students on the mental health aspect of education. Our lives will always be stressful, tha

The aid of music

t is not preventable but working with students to help them learn better ways to deal with not only stress, but emotional problems will allow them to become better people in the workforce. Finally, more universities should look into music therapy. While it may sound silly the National Library of Medicine has found that music therapy is a combination of music, medicine, and psychology this is beneficial in alleviating bad emotions and psychological problems that students may be feeling. A plus side is that it aids college students in forming a sound personality. Any kind of music is beneficial even if it comes from a Disney soundtrack. On a last note, do what makes you, happy channel your superhuman strength, and remember that like Luisa you can always conquer the surface pressure.

Bibliography

Blanco, Carlos, Mayumi Okuda, Crystal Wright, Deborah S Hasin, Bridget F Grant, Shang-Min Liu, and Mark Olfson. “Mental Health of College Students and Their Non-College-Attending Peers: Results from the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions.” Archives of general psychiatry. U.S. National Library of Medicine, December 2008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2734947/. 

Brown, Beth, and Beth Brown (7 Articles Published) Beth has just started her career as an entertainment journalist with ScreenRant. When she’s not writing. “Encanto: The Real Meaning of Luisa’s Song ‘Surface Pressure.’” ScreenRant, March 19, 2022. https://screenrant.com/encanto-movie-luisa-surface-pressure-song-meaning-explained/. 

“Changes in Counseling Center Client Problems across 13 Years.” Accessed May 14, 2022. https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/pro-34166.pdf. 

“The Madrigals.” Disney Wiki. Accessed May 14, 2022. https://disney.fandom.com/wiki/The_Madrigals. 

“Niaaa College Task Force (2002) – A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges.” NIAAA Task Force: A Call to Action. Accessed May 14, 2022. https://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/niaaacollegematerials/publications/calltoaction.aspx. 

Novotney, Amy. “Students under Pressure.” Monitor on Psychology. American Psychological Association, September 2014. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/09/cover-pressure.aspx. 

Puchko, Kristy. “This ‘Encanto’ Song Is More than a Bop, It’s an Anthem We Needed.” Mashable. Mashable, January 4, 2022. https://mashable.com/article/encanto-surface-pressure-song. 

“Statistics – Young Adult Mental Health Stats and Figures.” Active Minds, September 22, 2021. https://www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/statistics/. 

Wenqin, Li. “Analysis of the Effectiveness of Music Therapy on Mental Health of College Students.” Journal of healthcare engineering. Hindawi, January 25, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8808123/.

Tags from the story

22 Responses

  1. I love how you portrayed the lyrics and emotions toward your audience ( college students). I’m glad you raised the topic of mental health awareness regarding college students and how the world depends on our generation to be the difference. Comparing music to my emotions has always been something big for me. Music has been my therapy not just for college but for other challenging problems in my life. Since music has been a part of my life, I’ve been able to express thoughts musically. I thought it was crazy to consider the number of students that go through such stress when finding a balance with school, work, extra activities, family, etc.

  2. I liked how you were able to relate Encanto to what many of us college students feel. I agree to how we often bottle up our feelings due to the reason that we don’t want the people depending on us seeing us as “weak.” When Luisa sings the part of the song that says she’s ”pretty sure ” she’s “worthless” if she can’t be of “service” I can relate to that because I sometimes feel the same way when I’m not able to help my mom out with her food truck and I feel guilty for not being able to be there with her.

  3. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article from begining to end. The comparison of our mental health and the song sang by Luisa was in a way comforting. To know that even the “strongest ones” breakdown and fall apart, aids isolation in a way. College in general can and will be a big stressor in our everyday lives, but like you mentioned, we need more easily accsessible solutions to help us deal with these stressors. I really liked how you pointed out the fact about how mental breakdowns have become overlly normalized, because I couldn’t agree more. Students shouldn’t feel that much stress overload weekly, it’s not healthy or “normal” in any way.

  4. Ever since I first set my eyes on the moving theatrics of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton , I felt a difference in how each character was given their own unique connection to the lyrical words they sang . Whether it be Miranda’s own central character and historical founding father Alexander Hamilton who sings “ You’re an orphan. Of course! I’m an orphan God, I wish there was a war! Then we could prove that we’re worth more Than anyone bargained for…”

    The presence of emotion is strongly here underneath what we as the audience see. I find Lin’s works so bold and strong in the way he makes sure his characters are not only written as a piece of the story but also come alive to reach into the viewer’s own thoughts about what they feel about themselves . For Hamilton this is his own vanity being shattered by his self-worth, wanting to be like Aaron Burr, using ‘we’ instead of me because on the surface he’s really trying to stray away from his own reality. Being a college freshman and eldest sister , Encanto’s ‘Surface Pressure’ heavily expresses the growing thoughts of any sibling in their family to set the ‘perfect example’ , to be the one who holds everything together when on the inside some days it appears even more impossible then the next .

    When it comes down to being in college, it is the beginnings, the thoughts of failure that make us question our own value to those around us . Thank you for writing this magnificent article and truly bringing our attention to the pressures that lie behind the curtain. Luisa is a wonderful example of what it means to fall into that cycle.

  5. I loved this article because I can relate to it. I come from a Hispanic household, where I’ve always felt the pressure to do well in everything, especially in school. Much like Louisa mainly people in the Hispanic culture feel the pressure of making our families proud. To the point where we are living for them rather than us. This is something that many college students from all different cultures and races endure. I think this is a problem that needs to be more recognized and addressed as a community.

  6. Hello Alexa! I just wanted to say thank you so much for writing this article. I nearly cried to be quite honest because I never related to something I have read before. This article helped me realize that although things might be a bit messy in the beginning, there is always hope in the end. Being a current university student, it has been tough so far in this first week of my second year of college. This article alone has also helped me realize that I am not alone in this situation, and that we all should come together to help one another. I never thought I would relate to a movie like Encanto either, but I’m noticing that many of us college students are also like Luisa. Again, thank you for shedding light on the reality of a college student’s life and normalizing the fact that we all can’t be perfect all the time.

  7. I enjoyed reading this article. Never have I been so engaged in a reading that I could relate to. As a second year student, I experienced the feeling of having to keep striving in my classes not for me, but for my family. I felt that if I were to take a moment to relax then it would seem as if I were quitting in the eyes of my loved ones. Your explanation of what Luisa has to go through being the strong one and not breaking down in front of her family so they wouldn’t think she’s weak is exactly what we go through as college students. The fact that you mentioned how many counselors there are to students shows that students don’t have as much support as we would like.

  8. Well if the profile picture itself of Luisa from Encanto didn’t grab my attention the title sure did. I am taking Spanish II this semester and I am trying to broaden my vocabulary and grammar in this language. I am also getting a degree in Psychology so I feel like this topic hit right in a spot of interest for me. The whole story of finding our true selves in confidence and morality especially with us going to college is a topic most students will relate to. Which is probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed reading this article so much.

  9. I loved your article on Encanto, especially the connection made between Luisa and the stress college students carry. It is an interesting read and as a first-year student entering university, I am aware of the amount of stress that managing schoolwork and social life will have on me. It is sad to think that more than 80% of students are overwhelmed by everything they need to do and not being able to talk to someone about it.

Leave a Reply to Sophia Phelan Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.