The most popular movies, tv shows, books, etc are loved and successful because we, the fans, relate to them. It’s why young girls adore Taylor Swift’s music, why we are all currently obsessed with Frozen and even why we can’t get enough of The Walking Dead. It also explains why Wicked is Broadway’s’ biggest success. Everyone knows that Elphaba is the green girl who never fits in, rises above her enemies and learns to stand-up for herself and for what’s right. We have all felt like an outsider at some point in our lives; we have all been Elphaba, but what about Glinda?
Glinda is the pretty “pink girl”. She’s practically perfect…she’s bubbly, cute, rich, popular and has all the self-confidence in the world. Glinda is the girl the that everyone wants to be and the girl that everyone hated and envied in high school. But, is that all? Does the depth of her character and her role in the musical end there? At first glance, I wold have said “yes”. We watch Wicked and see her as the head cheerleader we loved to hate or the co-worker who seems to have it all. She’s the one we strive to beat at the game of life. However, after all this time of being obsessed with Wicked, I’ve come to see Glinda in a different light.
Sure, she begins the play as a ditzy egotistical self-absorbed teenager, but as the story progresses so does Glinda. She learns to stop judging others, she befriends Elphaba and even learns to put others before herself. But, what I find most interesting and valuable in Glinda’s growth is that she realizes that what you want in life is often not what you need and most importantly, that getting what you want does not equal happiness.
At the end of the play she sings a song with her fellow Ozians called “Thank Goodness”. They are singing about how grateful they are that Elphaba (the wicked witch) is out of sight and celebrating Glinda’s promotion to “Glinda the Good, officially”. The citizens are singing about how horrible and scary Elphaba, but Glinda knows the truth…that Elphaba is far from wicked, and only hiding so she can continue to fight for the rights of others. Anyways, in this scene Glinda sings of her happiness, or what should be her happiness.
That’s why I couldn’t be happier
No, I couldn’t be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated
How many of us strive so hard to reach some goal, date some person or buy some specific outfit only to find it’s not what we thought it would be. How many times have we thought, “If only I had this…then I’d be happy.” After we get what we wanted so desperately does it truly satisfy? Or do we just want for something else? And at what cost are willing to pay to get these things?
‘Cause getting your dreams
It’s strange, but it seems
A little – well – complicated
There’s a kind of a sort of a cost
There’s a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn’t know you crossed
Until you’ve crossed
And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn’t thrill you like you think it will
Like Glinda, we have all gone a bit too far at times to get what we will think will make us happy. We have paid too much money, risked friendships, lost sleep, missed job opportunities… reaching that dream of ours always has its costs. We often stay so focused on it that we fail to recognize the life happening on the road to our success. Then, once we make it, it’s not what we thought it would be. I can’t tell you how many times I reached some goal… new job, new degree, new dress, etc and thought “This is it? This what I’ve worked towards for the past year…shouldn’t I feel happier or more fulfilled?”
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn’t it?
Is it? I think that’s the question Glinda poses for all of us. When we finally get our dream job, marry that perfect person, start a family, make tons of money or whatever it is we dream will bring us happiness it often fails to do so. Not that those things can’t or don’t bring happiness…they do, but if we are depending on these wants and dreams to bring us happiness we are sure to be disappointed. We must learn to be happy with ourselves first, find happiness in the road to our successes and appreciate the small victories and people we meet along that road. Then, when and if are dreams come true we can truly enjoy them or not be devastated when they don’t meet our every expectation.
I love when I hear this song because it always seems to play at the exact moment that I need it. I have a bad habit of building up very high expectations for just about everything, which means I am easily disappointed. Glinda reminds me that my happiness shouldn’t depend on my house, my Husband, my child, my career or my wardrobe. My happiness depends on me, how I live my life, how I handle each situation and how I treat those I care most about in my life.
Glinda and Elphaba are both waiting for something to bring them happiness, the perfect guy, the right skin color, etc, and in the end they realize happiness is far more complicated. In the end, they discover that they had each taught each other how to be a better person. The person they thought they hated most, the thing they thought they would never need was one thing they needed most, and isn’t that something we can all relate to?