• Editorial: My Relatable . . . Sunset Shimmer



    We have been relating to ponies for long enough! It's time to look to humans for a while. As we come upon this time of year where supposedly the seasons change, its a good time to reflect on one of MLP’s most changed characters. A pony whose now a human and full of a lot more complex than that!

    Sunset Shimmer: The shining example that the past can be overcome and learned from. Dedicated to the overall well-being of her friends, Sunset has risen from the ashes to reinvent herself. Though still learning a thing or two about friendship, Sunset is able to teach the human world about real power which, of course, is the magic of friendship.


    Twilight's not awake enough to put up with this yet.
    Meeting Sunset the first time can leave a bad taste in most fans' mouth. She wasn’t a well-rounded character and it was hard to appreciate her backstory from the movie, but luckily for us, Sunset’s complexity was given a spotlight by Rainbow Rocks.

    Personally, Sunset is the pony I would most like to be friends with. I don’t completely relate to her as I never got to play the bully role, but I know how it feels to overcome a rough past. All of us can. (We are constantly being defined by past actions, that’s how others know who we are.) Sunset shows us that, while we can’t rewrite our story we can start a new chapter.

    In this regard, Sunset is the very definition of reinventing one’s self. So let’s dive into what makes us relate so much to Shimmers.

    Entitlement



    Something unique about Sunset’s villain story is that it began under the tutelage of Celestia. She honestly had talent strong enough to gain a princess’s attention.

    She worked hard and studied everything to become the pony Celestia was implying she could be. Sunset had ambition, discipline, self-motivation, unfortunately, she also had entitlement. Sunset was poised to be anything she wanted but traded that for what she thought she deserved.

    I know I’m not the only one who grew up being told, “You can be anything you want if you work hard enough,” only to have reality deny me what I thought I had earned. Like Sunset, it can be hard to recognize a corrupted goal especially when it becomes your dream. When Sunset wasn’t given power, she felt cheated and didn’t know how to cope with the idea that she, in fact, didn’t deserve to have her dream. She just kept pushing almost out of desperation and that’s relatable.

    The Past Isn’t the Definition of a Person
    Oh, how good it feels to rise above the past.

    Sunset Shimmer was a jerk. She knows she was awful and she admits it, but she doesn’t allow her past to haunt her or dominate her new life. Instead, she’s chosen to learn from it and she’s even able to poke fun at it in the Friendship Games with Applejack.
    Looking at your reflection again can be a brave act in and of itself.
    Sunset has a healthy relationship with her past and is looking forward to the person/pony she knows she can really become. She’s not going to deny herself happiness, try to regain power or beat herself up every time she does something reminiscent of the past.

    I deeply hope many relate to this. You’ve come to peace with your past and you look forward to who you are. (Shout out to the human mane 5 for being the support system Sunset needed to get to this place.) Sunset truly loves who she is and has come to terms with the pain it took to do so.

    Learning to Trust Yourself

    "I didn't think I could say anything."
    Sunset is rather smart and I’d say she has a high level of emotional intelligence too, however, concepts she doesn’t fully understand challenge her usually calm demeanor. So, Sunset is skeptical of everything even her own abilities.

    What’s relatable about Sunset’s overthinking is that she doesn’t always view herself as a reliable source of information. In the Friendship Games, Sunset admits that she was so eager to have someone else give her the answers that she forgot she could get them for herself.

    Sunset: Trust me about magic, I used to be a unicorn.
    She’s slowly learning to trust herself again. This is my favorite part of her reformation story. We can relate to the growth because all of us have had to grow in our talents and learn how to trust ourselves.

    Secret Artist

    I wonder if this art represents anything personal for Sunset.
    It may be hard to imagine, but there are artists in the world who use pseudonym and autonomous internet accounts to share their talents.

    I struggle sharing my art sometimes because I worry people will analyzing my work based on their relationship to me instead of for the art’s own sake. Maybe you relate and hide your identities for one reason or another. For Sunset, she doesn’t need a pat on the back, she wants the art to be enjoyed. She wants it to brighten people’s day. She doesn’t need the recognition so long as the art is getting the attention it deserves. (That and it looks like she excels at vandalism *cough cough*)
    Nothing creepy about Sunset's actions here.

    Even better, Sunset wants her art to enrich her friends. She was willing to give her art for free to promote Rarity’s designs.

    Facing the Consequences

    I can only imagine the anxiety she must be feeling.
    Being brave may not seem all that special or even worth pointing out in a show filled with character overcoming personal anxieties, but that doesn’t lessen the impact Sunset has in this area.

    In Forgotten Friendships, Sunset stands apologetically before Princess Celestia. There’s no doubt she was scared of how Celestia would respond to her. Sunset had chosen to plot to overthrow the princess. This is no small offense Sunset is hoping to be forgiven of but with her new friendships on the line Sunset faced her fear and stood before Celestia ready to face whatever punishment she was deserving of.

    "I’d rather give up my own memories than ruin their friendships again."
    Sunset was also willing to choose some pretty tough repercussions on behave of those she cares about. The decisions she makes have the potential to ruin her life.

    All of us have to make decisions that frighten us to our core sooner or later. And while we can’t guarantee a happy outcome every time, we know not facing our fears would be a fate worse than any consequence of that choice.

    Adaptable



    Think about how much Shimmers has had to adapt to the world she’s in. I find myself marveling over how effortlessly she makes it look. Not only has she had to adjust to a new body, but she’s had to assimilate into an entirely new culture too.

    I know I’m not the only one who’s spent time living in a country other than the one I grew up in. It’s hard learning to live and work in a new culture. It’s hard recognizing social norms, table manners, polite introductions, how to look the literal right way before crossing the street. Everywhere you turn you bump into culture shock and homesickness. Sunset has done this too.

    If you understand the fun and frustration of uprooting your life than you and Sunset have a LOT in common.

    The Element of Understanding

    Even with opening night approaching, Sunset encouraged Twi to take some time off.
    I’ve heard it said that Shimmers Element of Harmony could be Compassion or Forgiveness, but I think it would be Understanding. She’s an amazing listen, and not just to verbal cues. She’s in tune with the people she cares about. When they share thoughts, feelings or ideas with her, she actually hears more than just their words.

    Sunset: That song was lame, but I've committed it to memory in just 1 listening.
    I loved the short Driving Miss Shimmer because Sunset implements everything her friends showed her, even when she didn’t seem to be all too thrilled about their methods.

    Even with her whole world falling apart, Sunset takes time to listen to the greatly longwinded Trixie!
    The EQG series emphasizes her power of understanding by giving her the magic to hear people’s thoughts, but her greatest moments are when she’s not using her geode. With Trixie, a person who has purposefully antagonized Shimmers multiple times in the past, she was able to set her judgments and current frustrations aside to hear the depth in Trixie’s words.

    Seeking to understand the people around you makes you relatable to Shimmers.

    Hates to Lose

    "What She Said!"

    No one enjoys losing; gaining a new perspective from a failure, sure, but not losing. Sunset Does NOT Back Down! Whether playing games or fighting with magic, Sunset doesn’t half-heatedly enter a competition.

    Better to Ask for Help Than Beg Forgiveness.

    Friendship can show us a lot about ourselves.
    I know this isn’t something we all relate to. Personally, I’d rather admit I made a mistake over asking for help in the first place, but we can at least relate to being happier with the result of asking for help. Sunset’s life is becoming better because she’s willing to admit when she’s unsure.

    Shimmers is so willing to learn from others she views as more advanced than herself. While she was prideful at first, Sunset is now able to admit that her friends know more about friendship than she does. Sunset actively pursues the correct methods even at the expense of her own ego, and she is so much happier for it. Can you relate?

    Don’t Let The Sun Set on This Post

    Perfect the way you are.
    I wish I could keep going, but it has to end.

    If you relate to Sunset Shimmer, just know that your practical love for others is healing. People see that you forgive yourself and by doing so you’re giving them permission to grow and change too. You inspire others and the hurts of your past will be used to better our world.

    You may not be perfect, but being around you feels like perfection.

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