Eight months really did go by in a blink of an eye.
I think back on that one balmy January morning, my first day in Florida, and I remember my heart pounding in anticipation as I moved past the welcome banner strung up at the entrance to our check-in location. It’s happening, I remember telling myself. Your future is now.
I have to look back on that moment and suppress a smirk.
If someone were to ask me now, would I change my life if the clock could be wound back a year – to when I first submitted my application – I would answer with a resounding hell no. Nothing would make me give up these past eight months. The Disney College Program was a sure-fire bet. Of course I would do it! And my answer is still the same, a year later.
But not for the same reasons I would give one year ago. I wouldn’t do it for the resume bump, I wouldn’t do it for the classes, I wouldn’t do it to jump-start my career with The Walt Disney Company, the best company in the world. All of these reasons are patently untrue at worst, and a head-in-the-clouds wish at best.
I would do it for the experience.
Because there’s nowhere else in the world where you’re living with hundreds of other people who share the same goals, the same interests, the same drive as you. It’s hard to find as close-knit a group as a graduating DCP class at the end of their struggle. It’s like we all climbed Everest together (or Expedition Everest, as the case may be), and now, we’re all celebrating at the base. The immense feeling of happiness and warmth is something I hadn’t ever felt before; that sense of yeah, this is where I’m supposed to be – and that, beyond anything else, will be my story to anyone who ever asks me, was the DCP worth it?
There’s so many of those little memories, those little snippets of everyday life that meant the world to me. When I would come home after work, look at the smear marks on my apron, and make a mental note to stop by the costuming department tomorrow morning; frantic texts sent out to co-workers with cars when it turned out that no, 1600 does not mean six o’clock; last-second jaunts to the Polynesian for a late breakfast before your afternoon shift.
And now, one month after my last day working for the Mouse, everything feels like it was part of a long, never-ending dream. I’ve heard a lot of talk about the “DCP hangover” – how we become mired in the fantasy world that is Disney – and to some degree, that can be true. I definitely pine sometimes for Orlando, for Florida, for late-night IHOP runs and Fantasmic and Wishes and The Tower of Terror. At night, when there’s nothing but me and my thoughts, I think of my friends still toiling away until far past midnight, and a part of me wishes I could be there with them.
But that’s not the way this game works. We have to push on, find new opportunities, discover new places. And sometimes, that means saying goodbye to our comfort zone. People often describe these experiences as “chapters” in their lives. The thing about chapters, though, is that they all have to come to an end. I think it’s time to wrap up this one.
The good part, however, is that at the end of every chapter, a new one begins. I’m not one of those types who skip to the end of a book, so I’ll be enjoying this next chapter… and the one after that, and however many more there will be.