Writing Catalog

Sasha Kapinos

Grade: 12

Mayfield High School

Instructor: Kari Beery

Mamma Mia!

Personal Essay & Memoir

Mamma Mia!

All my life, anxiety has dictated my thoughts, decisions, and beliefs. My mind has been filled with a fear of rejection, and constant "what ifs" keeping me secluded in a comfort zone.

My anxiety started when I was four years old. In the same year, I was given a DVD of Mamma Mia. Small factors can make or destroy someone's day, and, for me, the film adaptation of Mamma Mia has been a little thing that has provided me joy. This was my first time watching this film and there would be two more times where I distinctly remember watching Mamma Mia! I was a shy kid who hid behind her mother's back at any public outing. In the movie, Tanya is the outgoing, charismatic, funny best friend. She would be the first one to sing into a mic or start a dance party in the middle of the street. In fact, she was the one who taught my younger self to throw on the poofiest boa, and then go dance around the living room and sing into a toy mic without a care in the world—just like her. I didn't yet realize it, but his movie cracked something in me.

The next time I clearly remember watching it was in sixth grade, and at this point I knew that I couldn't hide behind my mother's back. However, I had been living in a bubble—my carefully constructed comfort zone. I didn't quite know what it was, but there was something eating at me. It felt like a low drawl in the background, always electrified. My anxiety prevented me from speaking out, defending myself, asking questions—I couldn't even order for myself at a restaurant. I was scared of what others thought about me or had to say about me.

Yet, when I put this film on for my friends and I, none of them knew about it—it was my thing. I sang along to every word of every song. As Sam, Bill, and Harry arrived in Kalokairi, as Sophie decided not to marry Sky, and as Donna chose to marry Sam, I dreamed along. This movie was my own thing and no one could take it away from me—not even my anxiety.

I recently rewatched Mamma Mia again before entering my senior year. As I rewatched this movie, I noticed the crack. It wasn't the crack in me, I noticed, but rather the cracked pattern.

As Donna helps Sophie get ready for her wedding, she sings the song "Slipping Through My Fingers." In this scene, Sophie is entering a new chapter in her life and her mother recalls past memories of her daughter. As I watched, I realized that I am at a pivotal point in my life, yet my anxiety has robbed me of so many opportunities. My anxiety prohibited me from making friends or from simply going out and having a fun time, and I realized that this isn't how the first chapter of my life should end. I should end my high school career with fond memories. Maybe I'd end up regretting those memories; I'll never know. But what I do regret is not taking the chance to create those memories.

As Sophie is brought up to the chapel for her ceremony, Donna and Sam duet the song "SOS." Even though this song is an expression of Sam's love for Donna, I think it's also a warning for Sophie. A warning to not waste time, to cherish it. This could be proven later on in her decision to hold off the wedding. The warning cry not only reached Sophie, but it reached me, too. At that moment, I understood that I needed to fight back against my anxiety. I understood what I had known deep down all along. I was missing out on so many memories and opportunities. I understood that my anxious feelings were the closed stage curtains, but the musical of my life had not ended yet.

Now, I look forward to my future. I don't let my anxiety create a play of pessimism in my brain—with rejection being the main character and "what ifs'' dancing in the back. Because of Mamma Mia, I can feel secure not only when watching the film but in every other moment of my day. I am not scared to move on anymore and I am keen on achieving goals, meeting new people, and traveling to new places. Most importantly, I want to write a new chapter of my life where anxiety is not a character.