This week, I was lucky enough to go to the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time. My friends and I watched Unicorn Store, actress Brie Larson’s directorial debut. The movie centers around Kit (played by Brie), an eccentric woman who has loved unicorns since she was a child. In one of the opening scenes of the movie, we see Kit, covered in a multitude of colours, painting away. It is only when she takes a step back that we see that she has messily painted the wall around her canvas; and that there are a trio of black-clad art judges behind her, who shake their heads as they write negative critiques on their clipboards.
After this experience, Kit attempts to conform to the society she sees around her; she sees a commercial for a temporary hiring agency, applies and lands a position in a PR firm. Soon after, she begins finding elegant notes with her name spelled out in extravagant cursive letters. The notes lead her to an address—the “Unicorn Store,” where a brightly dressed salesman (Samuel L. Jackson) informs her that she can have a pet unicorn, if she adheres to several criteria. Through her journey of fulfilling the criteria, Kit makes a new friend, strengthens her relationship with her parents and begins to embrace the creative side she had previously attempted to stifle.
Towards the end of the movie, Kit receives a call that her unicorn is waiting for her. She sees her unicorn and, as is clear from the awe-struck look in her eyes, she loves it. However, she ultimately decides not to take the unicorn home; there is another woman on the waiting list, and Kit realizes that this woman may need the companionship and love of the unicorn more than she does (as she has found those things through fulfilling the initial criteria to get the unicorn).
You’ve probably heard the quote about the journey being more important than the destination; I can’t state enough how true this is. As I typed that quote, I thought of the journey I’m on now at university. I wouldn’t want to just be handed a degree; though that is the destination of my four years of studying, I would completely miss the valuable journey to get there. The journey of working, learning and growing is one that I think is irreplaceable. When I graduate, I’ll treasure my diploma; but I will know that my experiences are more rich and meaningful than a piece of paper that says my name on it (I realize, of course, that university degrees are prestigious; but there’s a reason you have to work so hard to earn one).
What I thought was especially powerful about Kit’s journey in Unicorn Store was that, in the end, Kit made the selfless decision to give up the thing she had been working so hard to secure, for the benefit of someone else. Because, really, while the “thing” she was working towards was the unicorn, she was really working towards creating a better life for herself; she just didn’t realize it at the time. Sometimes goals that we have may cause us to do this, too. We may inadvertently improve our lives along our journey to achieve a goal; and while achieving that goal will still feel great, we’ll have the extra benefits we gained throughout the journey.
I think as well, though, that sometimes reaching that destination can be a great way to cap off a journey. Yes, my university experience has been shaped by all of the things along the way to graduation; but walking across the stage to receive my diploma will be an acknowledgement of all of those things. In this way, Kit giving up her unicorn was the final stage in her journey; allowing her to move on from her obsession with the destination and realize the progress that had been made along the way. Focusing on the journey instead of the destination is advice I think we can all apply to some area of our lives—even if our end goal isn’t to own a unicorn.