Finding Myself in the Middle of the Ocean - My Family Travels
Disney cruise crew with stitch!
Disney cruise crew with stitch!

I had always been one to fade into the background. From attending my middle school to being an ensemble member of youth theatre productions to participating in my Girl Scout troop, I was the girl one had to look for in order to notice. Therefore, my group of friends consisted of girls who I latched onto because we were involved in similar activities and our moms were friends. With that limited history of social experience, I walked onto Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic ship with butterflies in my stomach, worried about how the cruise would turn out. From reading travel books like Passporter’s Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call, I knew that for a teenager, the quality of a cruise is directly related to the friendships one makes on it. With that in mind, I knew that I had to stop being “anonymous girl”; instead, I would be the girl who puts herself out there.

â–º  Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

 On July 28, 2008, I did just that. Watching a teen-only game of Mickey Mania at the ship’s Studio Sea, I noticed a seemingly nice and friendly girl sitting next to me and started talking to her. It turned out that she was as friendly as she seemed, and I quickly joined her whirlwind of friends and fun. By introducing myself to Briana, I gained an instant pass into a group of friends totally different from the one I had at home; these ones seemed genuinely interested in what I had to offer to the group, and I felt the exact same way about them. Together, we spend countless hours at the Stack, the ship’s teen hangout, and partook in the various activities that it had to offer from games of Gender Wars to dance parties to Disney trivia games. As I found myself laughing and enjoying the games, I realized that it was not the games that made the experiences so fun but the people I was with.

While the ship sailed from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallerta to Cabo San Lucas, I felt like I was having the most fun I have ever had on a vacation and possibly even in my life. Being accepted for exactly who I was by a group of people my age was a feeling that I will forever treasure. For most of my life, I have been an onlooker or a pity friend, but on this cruise to the Mexican Riviera, I was someone who contributed something to my group of friends. From our conversations about ramen noodles and musical theatre to being the winning team of Brains and. Brawns, I felt like a genuine part of my group of friends, and that was why this cruise is so special to me. On this cruise, I learned how much I can benefit from putting myself out there. Every day, I remind myself to be the person who I was on that cruise, someone who took a risk and reaped the benefits of that risk. Now, I have the confidence to put myself out there to making new friends because the risk of failing is worth the chance of experiencing the true happiness of friendship. That is why my Disney Cruise was magical: it allowed me to make lifelong friends and memories.

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