Have You Watched “Inside Out 2”? (My Thoughts)

Inside Out 2 surprised and moved me in ways I didn’t expect. I recall enjoying the first movie quite a bit, and it only took around 30 seconds of the new movie to remind me of just how clever the concept is: Emotions as characters doing their best to steer the human they’re in charge of.

The observation I’ll share below (also posted on my company blog) doesn’t spoil anything from the plot, but it does delve into the emotions that converge at a climactic moment, so you might skip this if you haven’t seen the film (which I highly recommend).

The movie delves into the impact of anxiety and insecurity on how we behave, including the idea that manageable doses can lead to healthy decisions. But if anxiety is left unchecked, it builds to a heartbreaking moment in the film when the character is overwhelmed with this defining statement: I’m not good enough.

I’m not good enough. I don’t belong. I don’t deserve this. These are all aspects of imposter syndrome: Even when there’s evidence to the contrary, you doubt your skills and accomplishments compared to others.

I feel this way all the time, but the film reminded me of an excellent way to break free of cycling into imposter syndrome. At the climactic moment, the character chooses joy (quite literally, as one of the emotions is Joy). She lets go of external metrics of success and of her shortcomings, and instead chooses joy. She chooses it for herself and for those  around her.

This really, really struck home for me (I’m not ashamed to say that I cried at this moment), as it’s literally the core mission at Stonemaier Games: We strive to bring joy to tabletops worldwide. Joy is my guide. In those tough moments, I choose joy for myself and for you.

I don’t just mean this figuratively. In those moments when I feel like I’m not good enough, instead of dwelling on that feeling, I can literally reach out to a customer and try to bring a little joy to them (on social media and beyond). While I can’t actually control how someone else feels, it’s the act itself of choosing joy for myself and anyone else that matters.

I loved Inside Out 2 even more than I expected, and I hope they can return to the character of Riley again when she enters college, when she balances career and family as an adult, and then one final time in the final chapter of her life. How did the film impact you?

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