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.


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. 

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. 

“Changes in Counseling Center Client Problems across 13 Years.” Accessed May 14, 2022. 

“The Madrigals.” Disney Wiki. Accessed May 14, 2022. 

“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. 

Novotney, Amy. “Students under Pressure.” Monitor on Psychology. American Psychological Association, September 2014. 

Puchko, Kristy. “This ‘Encanto’ Song Is More than a Bop, It’s an Anthem We Needed.” Mashable. Mashable, January 4, 2022. 

“Statistics – Young Adult Mental Health Stats and Figures.” Active Minds, September 22, 2021. 

Wenqin, Li. “Analysis of the Effectiveness of Music Therapy on Mental Health of College Students.” Journal of healthcare engineering. Hindawi, January 25, 2022.

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22 Responses

  1. I enjoy the movie and seeing the messages that it has to offer actually being used to point out the problems with what goes on with people. It can go any way basically. I like the way the author interpreted it, connecting to a college student. The message that Luisa exfoliates is one of many in the movie but she is saying a message of pressure. The pressure to do good is cause she can, but too much of that pressure will break you down. That is what the message is and is connected to a college student could be one of the best examples of the message that is being told.

  2. This movie was a really good one to watch regardless of your age. This article went into much greater detail of Luisa’s life. It shows the struggles and challenges she went through both physically and mentally. Having the pressure of being the strongest person or even the toughest mentally is draining. She went through the phase where she felt like she wasn’t the one anymore and she was depressed and felt the pressure of letting her family and town down.

  3. I loved reading this article! I feel that college kids are often afraid to speak about the struggles they are facing since they don’t want to seem dependent on their families. The academic world is very overwhelming and the pressure to be successful in life is a lot of weight to carry. The use of the song from the movie Encanto is a great way to compare the struggles of college students and the meaning of the song.

  4. I enjoyed reading this article because I could relate a lot of it to myself. It talks about struggles of being a student and the pressure that one might face in college. Even just starting out college I can feel those and its nice to take a step back and know you’re not alone. It is also great that all of this can be summarized into a kids movie that anyone could watch.

  5. This was such a great article and Luisa is a prime example of how any college students feel. Students already felt stress and anxiety and even more so when the way we went to school changed forever during a worldwide pandemic. I definitely think this a topic that should be addressed a lot more and definitely agree that there should be some kind of policy to secure that support. Schools have the duty to teach students, but also the duty to provide a healthy environment in which they could do so.

  6. This article was great, this is such a big topic that needs more light shown on. Theres so much pressure in being successful especially for college students, it’s a lot think about everything we must do in order to succeed academically. The only thing i’d add to this article is that the pressure college students feel doesn’t just stem from family and education but from the unknown. What will we do with our lives? Will we truly be happy? Are we just meant to get jobs and pay our bills? whats the purpose of it? Mental health is a very big issue that affects 11-18% of the worlds population thank you for writing such an insightful essay on it.

  7. I loved this article! When I first watched Encanto, I was shocked at how much I related to Luisa. I agree that the academic world is a lot to handle and if we add stress from family and friends? It usually will become too much. Also, I agree there needs to be a policy change focusing on the mental health of students of every age/grade. Great read!

  8. I definitely agree with this article, with how there’s so many struggles that college students have and how we aren’t happy; the Encanto song clearly depicts just how everyone feels to the t. This article clearly shows the correlation of how the song makes us feel not good enough and weak, to the feeling of being a college student and the responsibilities that come with it. I believe that there are ways to help ease that feeling; you have to be on a very strict self-disciplined mindset to overcome these struggles.

  9. Hi Alexa, Great job on the article! I love this movie , as I’m reading some of your article when it goes into detail about Luisa’s scene I can picture it as if I’m watching the movie right now lol. This article shows how challenging life can be for the college students, and I can definitely see how it can affect their minds and emotions, having to stay strong and just move forward. I am all for mental support for the students, Mental Illness is very much spread out everywhere now, this pandemic that we went through, the inflation, its already at a high end , so I believe that students need more support, someone to talk to, someone to listen, and it is ok if we make mistakes, we are only human, we just have to come back ten times harder.

  10. I liked the article, however, I think it would be good to acknowledge that probably this weight or pressure is due not only because of the responsibilities family and society can put upon us but the lack of reasons this generation may have to move their actions. I think it is more likely that the absence of answers as to what to do with our lives, the lack of purpose, or a cause to pursue can weigh more on the students’ spirits than the exigencies of college life.
    I will not deny or say that the battles we have today are meaningless or insignificant, because they are not. It is not anymore, for most of us, at least, a battle against the environment (lack of commodities, water, a house, food, etc.), but it is a battle direct to the mind, and that is, I believe, even more dangerous.
    But it also does make us question whether has it never been like that before.

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