In the Disney movie Tangled, Rapunzel sings about being isolated in her tower and wondering when she’ll be able to truly start living her life. Rapunzel fits the profile of a faithful Mormon single adult: She’s a hard worker, she’s morally pure, and she displays a zest for life that is absolutely contagious. In her opening musical number, she sings:
I’ll reread the books
If I have time to spare
I’ll paint the walls some more,
I’m sure there’s room somewhere.
And then I’ll brush and brush,
and brush and brush my hair
Stuck in the same place I’ve always been.
And I’ll keep wonderin’ and wonderin’
And wonderin’ and wonderin’
When will my life begin?
There are many Mormon single adults who can empathize with Rapunzel’s situation. One of my friends once told me that he feels life doesn’t truly begin until you’re married. Given the strong emphasis on marriage and family in the Mormon Church, I wasn’t surprised he felt this way. There are many single adults that long for marriage, feel “stuck in the same place I’ve always been,” and wonder, just like Rapunzel, “When will my life begin?” However, the attitude that life doesn’t really start until you’re married isn’t just wrong – it’s harmful to your personal growth and search for an eternal companion.
Elder John K. Carmack once explained, “Marriage is more likely achieved as a by-product of pursuing other useful activities and goals…while temple marriage and family life would be my ultimate goal, whether in this life or beyond, I would be careful not to make it my central focus. Marriage is more likely to come naturally, from living life fully, than by a direct and pointed campaign to achieve that long-range goal.”
So if marriage is more likely to come from living life to the fullest, how can we stop waiting for our lives to begin?
The answer is simple: We focus on what we can control. Thankfully, we have more opportunities available to us compared to Rapunzel, who was stuck in her tower with little to do besides reread her books, paint, and brush her hair. Here are some principles that single adults can implement to live their lives to the fullest and prepare themselves to meet their future eternal companions.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone
When Rapunzel finally gets her opportunity to leave her tower, she leaps from her window, only to hesitate before allowing her feet to touch the ground. For Rapunzel, leaving her tower is a literal leap of faith because it means leaving behind the only life she’s ever known. But when she leaves her comfort zone behind, Rapunzel is able to start her journey of personal growth.
As children of God, we have incredible potential that our Heavenly Father wants us to live up to. He wants us to grow and have experiences that will prepare us for our future endeavors. Staying in our comfort zone is dangerous because it can hold us back from personal growth.
Sister Elaine Dalton, a former Young Women General President, said, “From everything I read in the scriptures, I don’t think the Lord likes us to be in a comfort zone. He repeatedly takes his choicest servants out of their comfort zones and challenges them by their circumstances, their trials, and their opportunities to become more and to do more. In order to do this, we must be willing to move out of our comfort zones—to change. And that change can happen today.”
Getting married isn’t just a matter of finding the right person – it also involves becoming the right person for someone else. If we have the courage to leave our comfort zone behind, we can grow and develop into the type of person that will attract a righteous spouse.
Develop a zeal for life, regardless of whether you’re single or married
Because of the strong emphasis on marriage and family in the church, there are many single adults who feel “incomplete,” frustrated with being alone, and are unhappy. However, although the greatest potential for joy might exist in a righteous marriage, it doesn’t mean that we can’t find happiness as a single adult or mean that marriage will automatically bring us happiness. John Bytheway once said, “Happily single? Some might question this statement and say, “Why, you’re not supposed to be happy if you’re single!” Of course you are. Happiness is a choice, whether you’re married or single. And happily single people are more likely to become happily married people.”
Happiness is not dependent on our relationship status. Choosing to be happy helps us to live a life of purpose and attract like-minded people who can add value to our lives. Going back to the Tangled analogy, do you think Rapunzel would have been attractive to Flynn Rider if she was bitter about her situation? I’m sure it must have been a tough childhood to grow up alone in a tower, with no friends aside from a pet chameleon. Given Rapunzel’s limited options for personal growth in her tower, it must have been difficult to find happiness in her situation (after 18 years, there’s only so many times a young woman can reread her books, paint, and brush her hair). But she didn’t allow these challenges to drag her down and change her optimistic perspective about life.
Because of Rapunzel’s cheerful attitude and happiness about life (Best! Day! Ever!), Flynn ended up falling for her. The next time you’re tempted to feel bitter about your situation, think of Rapunzel’s example. You never know when the Lord will put the right person in your path. When that opportunity comes, you need to be prepared to invite that person into your life by making a good first impression. (It didn’t make a good impression when Rapunzel justifiably smacked Flynn on the head with a frying pan, but luckily, her personality and cheerful attitude eventually won him over).
Be fearless in pursuing your dreams
In Tangled, there’s a tavern scene in which Rapunzel and a group of ruffians sing about their dreams. Unlike the Gaul thugs, however, what sets Rapunzel apart is how she doesn’t just sing about her dreams – she has the courage to make her dream a reality. When Rapunzel finds the right opportunity to see the floating lights in person, she does whatever it takes to pursue her life-long dream. She overcomes her personal insecurities, persuades a mob of ruffians to support her quest, and bravely ventures forth into the unknown.
Like the Gauls in the tavern, we may feel discouraged from pursuing our dreams if our lives haven’t turned out the way we envisioned. However, like Rapunzel, we still have our agency to choose what we want our lives to be like – and we should never let discouragement from being single stop us from pursuing our dreams! Single or married, I believe that God has a plan for us and wants us to achieve the righteous desires of our hearts. (If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to read your patriarchal blessing). If your dream is meaningful enough, you’ll find a way and the Lord will help you make your dream a reality (Philippians 4:13).
Don’t allow the doubts and criticisms of others stop you from living your life
Rapunzel’s manipulative “mother,” Gothel, tried to discourage her from reaching her dreams. Throughout the entire movie, Gothel constantly criticizes Rapunzel and tries to control her by exploiting her insecurities. Like Rapunzel, along our journey, we’ll inevitably run into people who may fill our minds with doubts and tell us what they think our lives should be like. Taking their comments to heart often holds us back from living the dream we were born for.
It’s important to remember that you are the only person with the ability to receive personal revelation for your life. If you have the guidance of the Lord, don’t allow doubt to dissuade you from your destiny. Do you want the approval of others or do you want the approval of the Lord? Ultimately, whose approval really matters?
Understanding our divine heritage helps us overcome self-doubt
After Rapunzel returns home to her tower with Gothel, she finally realizes that she’s the lost princess. As soon as she makes this connection, it gives Rapunzel the courage to stand up for herself and reject Gothel’s lies. In a similar manner, understanding our true heritage as sons and daughters of a Heavenly King helps us overcome our self-doubts and insecurities. When we understand our divine potential, it gives us the confidence to overcome our doubts and live our lives to the fullest.
Maintain a loving perspective and help others realize their true potential
It’s fascinating to see how Rapunzel and Flynn’s relationship evolves throughout the movie. When Flynn is first introduced, he’s certainly no Prince Charming. He’s cocky, narcissistic, and self-centered. However, Rapunzel’s influence gradually helps Flynn to become a more compassionate, chivalrous and trustworthy person. Rapunzel never judges Flynn or treats him like a “project.” Instead, she chooses to bring out the best in him and to treat him not as he currently is, but as he could be.
Ultimately, Rapunzel’s influence helps Flynn see himself for who he really is. He isn’t Flynn Rider, the wanted thief – he’s really Eugene Fitzherbert. He’s the one who reassures Rapunzel when she expresses apprehension about finally living her dream. He’s the one who races out of prison to save Rapunzel. In the end, he’s the one who sacrifices his life to protect the woman he loves. Because of Eugene’s selflessness and the changes he makes in his life, he wins Rapunzel’s heart.
Rapunzel’s experience can be easily applied to LDS single adults seeking their eternal companions. It can be easy to make quick judgments of others. However, we benefit through seeking to recognize and bring out the good in others, rather than simply evaluating prospective romantic partners from a trite checklist.
Elder John K. Cormack said, “Remember that even spiritual giants begin in embryo. If you are not careful, the ideal—what you hope your spouse will be—can blind you to the numerous good qualities in potential partners. Many eligible Latter-day Saint singles who now might not measure up to your checklist will someday be fine fathers and mothers and respected Church and community leaders. Learn to see potential in people and to help them develop it. That is what you would want a loving partner to do for you. One young woman found her responses to the man she had been dating were altered when she changed her own perspective and looked at his potential. Their friendship blossomed into love, and they were married.”
Every person we meet has divine potential as a son or daughter of God and should be treated accordingly. Just to clarify, it’s generally not a good idea to date others in the hope we can change them – Rapunzel doesn’t get together with Eugene until after he makes significant changes in his life. However, Rapunzel’s example shows that we should look for and bring out the good in everyone we meet. After all, you never know who might benefit from your light and turn out to be someone’s Prince or Princess in disguise.
When seeking a companion, find someone willing to champion your dreams
Rapunzel and Eugene both have different dreams they’re pursuing. However, as the bonds deepen between these characters, Eugene realizes that the dream he’s been pursing ultimately falls short compared to Rapunzel. Eugene adopts Rapunzel’s dreams as his own and at the end of the movie, he lays down his own life to allow Rapunzel to pursue her dreams. With his dying breath, he tells Rapunzel, “You were my new dream” and she tearfully responds, “And you were mine.” Thankfully, due to the last traces of magic from Rapunzel’s tears, Eugene is revived and they both happily create a new dream together.
There are some single adults who mistakenly think that being married means they’ll have to give up on their dreams. However, if you choose the right partner, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your dreams. Instead, it means that you gain a best friend who believes in you and has adopted your dream as his or her own. Working together, with a shared dream in hand, you and your spouse can create the type of happy ending that will put even the greatest fairy tale to shame.
Don’t allow being single to stop you from living life to the fullest
Rapunzel’s courage to pursue her dreams allowed her to live life on her own terms. She didn’t leave her tower with the intent of finding a significant other. However, because Rapunzel wanted to live life to the fullest, it allowed her to attract the right person who could add value to her life.
You don’t have to be married before your life truly begins. Learn the lessons God wants you to learn right now, regardless of whether your life turned out the way you expected. The lessons you learn will remain with you throughout the eternities.
With the right perspective, the things you learn while single will make you a better person and ultimately, prepare you to be a better spouse. If you faithfully live your life, you will be prepared to be the best spouse possible – regardless of whether you find your eternal companion in this life or the next. So don’t wait until marriage before you start living your life to the fullest.
Your future spouse will thank you for it.