We've all got glitches (Untucked Column #18)

I love a good animated movie. One of my favorites is Wreck-it-Ralph. However, it is not the title character that stood out to me and taught me a life lesson (he does in the sequel, though) but his sidekick, Vanellope Von Schweetz. A short overview of my favorite Disney character:

“Known as ‘The Glitch’, Vanellope is a pixelating programming mistake in the candy-coated cart racing game Sugar Rush. With a racers spirit embedded in her coding, Vanellope is determined to earn her place in the starting lineup amongst other racers. Only problem: the other racers don’t want her glitching in the game.

Unfortunately, years of bullying due to King Candy's propaganda against her left Vanellope with a sharp tongue and a somewhat sour disposition. When first greeted, she comes off as annoying, obnoxious and rude, with little concern for the feelings or ambitions of other people, in comparison to benefiting herself. However, these aspects of her character are merely a result of her tragic upbringing, and were more so done for survival, rather than pure pleasure. Before Ralph's arrival, Vanellope was a loner, and the only programs she had any contact with were her abusers. Therefore, she had never experienced friendship or any form of compassion. However, somewhere beneath that hard-shell is a sweet center just waiting to be reveled.”

Vanellope was the victim of someone’s ambition. Due to a situation that was beyond her control, she was left with a glitch that made her different, a glitch that those around her did not understand and were led to believe that she was broken and no longer worthy to be included in their world. Vanellope was told over and over that she was a mistake and that she was not even supposed to exist. Does this sound or feel familiar?

Perhaps there is something that has transpired in your life – a choice that did not turn out like you hoped or a life altering event that you had no control over – that has you feeling like you now have some sort of glitch. You have a scar. You have something that just gnaws on you and on your mind.

Perhaps you have felt excluded or have excluded yourself because you have believed the hurtful things that have been said to you or that you have said to yourself. Maybe you have convinced yourself that you are not worthy of being loved because you’ve experienced so much heartbreak that the sheer thought of opening up again brings agonizing pain. Perhaps the glitch has hardened you, where you keep people at arms length because you don’t trust anyone to get too close.

Whatever that “glitch” is for you: maybe a failed marriage; someone who passed away; heartbreak; the dream job you lost; financial hardship, the list goes on. You are more than the glitch in your life. You can get out of the pit and stop believing that you are nothing more than a glitch and that that is all that you will ever be known for.

It is the very glitch that Vanellope was made fun of for that was the saving grace of the entire plot. It is that glitch that made her a fan favorite when she was restored. It is that glitch that no longer defined her in the negative but that she used as a positive. What kind of scars have you been hiding? What lies have you been telling yourself that you believe? Vanellope finally got out of the pit but she did not do it alone. Help requires humility.

Ralph showed kindness to Vanellope and it meant the world to her because all she had known was ridicule, shame, and rejection. Friend, if you relate to any portion of this story, you are not alone. The truth of the matter is that we have all felt like Vanellope at some point in our lives. If you have felt like an outsider because of a glitch – whether it be physical, mental, emotional – you are not the only one. We have all hidden parts of ourselves, lived small for fear of what others would think, and long to be accepted for who we really are.

Being transparent and vulnerable about our glitches can be terrifying. In admitting that you don’t feel strong, you show true strength. In being openly vulnerable, you show true courage. The truth in weakness is: if you own it, you surpass it, but if you hide it, it owns you. Find the courage to be authentic. Not everyone will like you but no one can if they don’t get the chance to know the real you.

Steve Sauceda