Is Trying to Be Better Distracting You From How Great You Already Are?

Heather Avis

A few weeks ago my husband and I took our three small children to Disneyland to celebrate our son’s second birthday. After riding “It’s a Small World” we found ourselves in one of the outdoor theaters watching one of the live shows Disneyland puts on throughout the day.

The show starts with a big picture of an animated map that has been painted except for the compass in the corner. Throughout the show, Mickey is chasing the compass around with a paintbrush, doing his darnedest to paint the compass, but it keeps running away from him, dodging his paintbrush and transporting him to all the far off lands Disney has created over the years.

After dozens of failed attempts to give the black compass some color, Mickey has a realization and says to the compass: 

“Maybe you didn’t want to be painted. You’re a masterpiece just the way you are.”

I began to cry right then and there.

I looked at my children, all three of whom have been adopted, and two of whom have Down syndrome and thought of all the times so many different people, including myself, have tried to paint them, turning a blind eye to the fact, that maybe, just maybe, they are a masterpiece just the way they are.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk, Creative Commons

As this new year has made its way to my front door, I have found myself thinking often about the wise words of that famous mouse.

I’ve been thinking about the people or people groups around me.

Minority groups who have a quiet or often misunderstood voice.

People like my son and daughter with Down syndrome, who are constantly being chased around with a paint brush in an attempt to make them “better” and “more” and “normal”.

So often we look at seemingly voiceless or misunderstood people and try to splash them with a little red or purple paint, all in the name of “helpfulness” while maybe all along, they didn’t want to be painted at all.

It’s also got me thinking about all the people out there, who are a lot like me.

People with a voice, who, during this time of year, use it to set goals and make plans to be something else, something better than who we are right now. And I think that’s good. I think setting goals and striving to be the best version of ourselves should be happening through out the year, every year.

I’m happy for a new year and a new start to offer the space for us to try to become the best version of ourselves.

But there’s a fine line between striving to be our best and painting over the masterpiece we already are.

I fear, all too often, we see how beautifully others have painted their maps and so we try to paint ours to look the same losing site of our masterpiece already in the works.

This is my hope and prayer for 2016, inspired by Mickey of course.

That we put down the paintbrushes in our lives, the ones trying to cover up the brilliant and beautiful already on the paper. As we set goals and strive to be the very best version of ourselves.

May we also make an extra effort to take the time to see the masterpiece that already exists both in ourselves and in each other.

Heather Avis

Heather Avis

Heather Avis is mother of three, all of whom are adopted, two of whom have Down syndrome, and all of whom are awesome. She is the participant in daily dance parties and writes from time to time. You can find beauty in the unexpected by following her on Instagram and her blog.

  • Nice Heather. I love kids and their individuality…they’re so honest and simple. You’re right, sometimes, we just need to let them thrive as they are. God bless you and your transparency.

    • The Lucky Few (Heather Avis)

      Thanks Paul!

  • Anrie Smith

    Awesome blog. Love it!

    • The Lucky Few (Heather Avis)


  • Ashley

    Beautiful message… except for why was a picture of two perfect, adorable blond haired blue eyed white kids chosen to be the image for this otherwise wonderful article?

    • The Lucky Few (Heather Avis)

      I am not sure how/why the photos are chosen. It’s a good question. Thanks for the compliment on the article. 🙂