I haven’t seen a good movie for a long time, but last night my heart was blown open by Brie Larson’s directorial debut of Unicorn Store, which she also co-produced and stars in.
When the credits rolled, my heart was pounding and tears wouldn’t stop streaming down my cheeks. It was so GOOD.
I lied awake all night processing the film. When I think of all that I have come through, I truly feel lucky to be alive doing what I love, every single day.
I saw so much of myself in Kit, the lead character that Larson plays. The empowering story has helped to reaffirm my confidence in the animated film that I have been working on about a little girl who has a vivid imagination but struggles with learning in the noisy classroom environment and is frequently bullied.
On the outside, it might seem like my life as a cartoonist is literally is like Unicorns and rainbows. I won’t lie, at times it is, but there are many times when it definitely isn’t and none of this came easy.
A majority of my childhood was spent in the hospital, fighting an aggressive form of an autoimmune disorder that was destroying my platelets. While I contemplated my mortality at age nine, other children were learning to swim, socialize, and play on playgrounds.
We were very poor and my legal guardians at the time had some serious problems that compounded my trauma. Though I was lucky to get life-saving medical care through the government welfare system, I didn’t get the emotional help I needed and my PTSD and ASD went undiagnosed and untreated.
But I always had a dream to do something great.
I wanted to be a cartoonist. And also pick up where Einstein left off for solving the Unified Theory for Everything.
When I went into remission into my teens, I was given a second chance at life and an entirely new version of myself erupted from the catatonic state I had spent so many years in. I became physically active for the first time in seven years and started to run. I tried out for track and was placed on the Varsity relay team. I felt like a real life Superhero.
My newly discovered powers influenced my emotional confidence which helped me to cope better with the bullying I experienced. I had social communication issues and learning in the classroom was difficult for me because of my sensory processing issues, but I studied really hard and earned a scholarship to study mathematics at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Just before I left for college, I divorced myself from my legal guardians and pursued therapy soon after.
And I never give up my main Unicorn dream. At 36 years old, I’m doing what I love (cartooning) full-time.
But there are some things that I have needed to slowly let go of in order to move forward, like being a lone wolf, and that can be extremely difficult when being ultra self-sufficient was the main way I survived in the past. It has taken nearly twenty years, but I have opened myself up very slowly to receiving help from trusted friends and chosen family.
I also met my darling life partner at a Unicorn conference, NO JOKE, but that’s another story (perhaps for tomorrow?!?) :)
The animated short that I have been working on has been a complicated process technically and the production has far exceeded my expectations for how much time and resources it would take to finish, but it has also gifted me with the opportunity to learn to work with a team of people for the first time in order to achieve a personal dream.
And yes, there was tragedy in my past, and my nervous system may forever be affected by it, which I am still learning to accept, but none of the art that has helped me to heal and visually communicate my message to the world would have been possible without those experiences.
Thanks Brie, if you’re reading this, you are making the world a better place. @brielarson
Believe in Your Dreams.
ps: I have not yet solved the Theory for Everything, but I’m starting to think it has something to do with Unicorns and Love. #unicornstore #buddhadoodles