It’s so hard not to love anything and everything Disney. I mean, they literally promise magic when you visit their theme parks, and they seem to be behind most pop-culture phenomena we know and love. Simply listening to a Disney song or watching a Disney movie makes us feel warm and fuzzy instantly, because they remind us of being young and carefree again.
But part of the reason Disney films themselves are so wonderful is because they often teach us heartfelt lessons that carry from childhood into adulthood. For example, friendship is a big theme throughout Disney storylines, and over the years I’ve personally learned a lot of great lessons when it comes to how not only to spot someone who has the potential to be a good friend, but how to be a good friend myself – and what to expect out of friendship in general.
Be frank (and OK with said frankness)
One of the biggest pillars of friendship I’ve discovered partially through my love of all things Disney is the necessity of being honest and frank. Of course, practicing tact is important too, but no one in a relationship benefits from a lie or being over-coddled. Take, for example, Robin Hood and Little John. Robin Hood is the leader, sure, but Little John has no problem saying, in so many words, “Dude, you’re in love with Maid Marian? You need to tell her.” Friends who give us tough love when we need it are priceless.
Also, can we please pause for just a second and talk about how Disney’s version of Robin Hood was the most attractive cartoon character of all time?
I physically cannot talk or write about him without mentioning this, and I don’t care if he wasn’t even human. RIP to his voice talent, Brian Bedford, who sadly passed away recently.
Remember that your family can be your friends too
As we grow up, we tend to compartmentalize our friends and family into completely separate categories. But the truth is, even if some of our family members aren’t people we can relate to at all, some of them are actually really cool and can make great friends. Families like the Parrs (The Incredibles), the Goofs (A Goofy Movie), and Elsa and Anna from Frozen have shown us that our best friends can be standing right in front of us for way too long until we notice.
Embrace, and learn from, your differences
Disney movies are great at throwing two very different people at us who, by the end of the movie, become best friends – for better or for worse. From Tod and Copper in The Fox and the Hound (a super-sad example), to Buzz and Woody in Toy Story, to Up’s Carl and Russell and even Tiana and Charlotte in The Princess and the Frog, we’ve learned that having someone around who’s different from yourself usually ensures you’re more well-rounded as a result. And we all need someone to persuade us of a different opinion once in a while, right? And pull us into a group hug when we don’t want to be there but, in reality, really need it.
Being friends first can sometimes lead to a great romance
This is one of the biggest things Disney movies taught me, and probably why I ended up marrying someone I’d been close friends with for almost 10 years before we decided to act on the unavoidable romantic feelings between us. Granted, I waited a little longer than Belle and the Beast did to act on said feelings, but sometimes when you know, you know. Simba and Nala from The Lion King are another great example of a twosome who were destined from the start and just had to let some time pass between them before the really figured it out.
Animals can be some of our best buddies
I can’t even think of a Disney movie where animals don’t play a big part in the story, subsequently proving they can sometimes be your closest confidants. Even the original Disney hero, Mickey Mouse himself, had an animal BFF in Pluto. And Jasmine’s pet tiger Rajah is probably the number-one reason I’m a cat person, I won’t even lie. Also, does Stitch count as an animal? Whatever. Aliens can also be our best buddies; see also: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
Make sure your closest friends are people you can laugh with
If you feel like you’re always walking on eggshells around someone, it’s probably no one’s fault – it’s just probably not a match, friendship wise. Make sure you surround yourself with people who make you laugh and whom you can laugh with (though never at, at least not in a mean-spirited way). In fact, the entirety of Monsters, Inc. – the best Pixar movie, and no one can tell me any differently! – is all about how powerful laughter really is.
Real friends will always be there at your most desperate hour
Characters like Jock and Trusty from Lady and the Tramp, who are injured in the process of saving Tramp from being taken away by the pound in a super tearjerker of a scene, are prime examples of true friends: Ones who jump to action whenever someone they care about is in trouble, and worry about the consequences later. Timothy Q. Mouse from Dumbo fits the bill, too: He swoops in and becomes a mentor/caregiver for Dumbo, not considering for a second that he is a tiny fraction of the little elephant’s size. It’s the heart’s size that counts, anyway.
And they could show up in your life when you least expect it
Just like love, the friendships that will have the strongest impact on your life can sometimes appear when you aren’t prepared for them at all. So make sure you look around and appreciate the Dorys in your life, because you never know when you might lose them.