5 Back-to-School Tips from Your Favorite Monster, Sulley

Thomas FusilliBlog

Sully and Mike Wazowski Monsters Inc

Whether you are a student heading off to your first day or you are a parent or teacher anxiously looking forward to what the year will bring, September is full of new routines and maybe even a few questions.

What will you wear? Will you do your hair? Is your class here, or there, or who knows where?

To help prepare for the upcoming school year, I have enlisted the help of James P. Sullivan (Sulley) from Disney-Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.  He’s going to guide you through some advice on how to get through your first few weeks of the semester (Mike Wazowski will be around, too, but he will be in the peripheral, and that’s great!)

1. Control What You Can

Just like many Disney characters (like Merida from Brave), we need to keep a handle on what is most important to us and to strive to overcome any obstacle in our path. We can only control what is at our disposal. 

Start by thinking of why you feel the way to do and what is creating those feelings of fear, then ask yourself what you can do about those things and set achievable goals to overcome those fears. 

  • Are you shy? Try to set a goal to say hello to three new people on the first day. 
  • Are you worried about getting sick? Wash your hands, exercise, eat healthy foods, and get proper rest.
  • Are you afraid of failure? Look back to past failures and see what you have gained in return.

2. Stay Fit

Monsters Inc Sulley Excersizes back-to-school tips

It’s not easy being this tough! Screenshot via Disney Plus

School days are long. They require stamina and strong minds. Your body has to be ready for the day and the cool-down after you have made it through.

Sulley starts his day at 6:05 AM with a high-intensity training session. He does Monster Pushups, Scary Feet Burpees, Bunk Bed Squats, Vertical Crunches, and other scare-focused exercises.

Maybe we don’t need to be as intense as Sulley is with his morning workout.

Start with a few good morning stretches to loosen up the muscles, and then set into a light low-intensity series. 10-15 minutes of some gentle push-ups, some easy crunches, and some bodyweight squats, and you are ready to start your day! 

3. Laugh With Your Friends

Mike and Sulley

Mike and Sulley are quite the duo. Screenshot via Disney Plus

At school, your success is only as good as the company with which you surround yourself. It isn’t about the grades in the grander scheme of things as much as the cooperation and willingness to support your peers that drives learning.

Sulley did not have to do much work before arriving at Monsters University. His family name had already got him to that point, his natural talents carried him through, and he does not need to help others, yet he finds a way to connect with those he initially felt were beneath him. 

This is where Mike Wazowski comes into the picture. Through thick and thin, Mike and Sulley have built their friendship around trust and support. They encourage each other and build each other up when one is feeling down. 

Most importantly, they can find ways to laugh with one another, even in the face of adversity.

Find people that will build you up and stand up for you. Be yourself around them. Once you have both, enjoy the bond of unconditional friendship through these interactions.

Feel free to break out dad jokes and puns, too. They might be cheesy, but they do get laughs!

4. Passion and Ability Drive Ambition

Monsters University

Sulley needed some tips to get through school, too. Screenshot via Disney Plus

Sulley was good at scaring people. He was a top worker. He was confident. He had everything that anyone could want.

At some point, however, he finds that his ambitions change. Sully learns that passion and empathy are better career choices than fear and intimidation; in refocusing himself, he can be an even more impactful monster that brings joy to other people.

On my first day of university, I had the extreme pleasure of listening to a speech from a man who embraced this idea. In short, he said that it isn’t so much what major or career path you choose, but instead, it is about what you tap into—your dedication to improving—that will lead to success. I, along with many others, have held onto that mentality ever since.

Finding the thing that makes you feel complete will strengthen you and everyone else around you. Seek this thing instead of the money or the notoriety and fame, and pure joy will follow.

5. Don’t Be Afraid

boo monsters inc

Boo tries to scare Sulley at work. Screenshot via Disney Plus

Fear inhibits us from experiencing all that life has to offer. It creates stress and anxiety, holding us back from living a fruitful and experiential life. It could even hold us back from doing things that we know are right and good.

Sulley is initially afraid of Boo (but seriously, how?!), but later, he will do anything to save her. Boo reciprocates this abandonment of fear to be able to help Sulley defeat Randall. They help each other in circumstances that they would’ve been reluctant to encounter early in the film.

Ultimately, Sulley realizes that his care for Boo (and others) supersedes any worry that may be present. 

Next week I will be focusing on Riley from “Inside Out” and how to manage the transition to new routines, whether that be school or work or home. 

Do you have any tips that you use? Let me know on Instagram—I look forward to hearing from you!

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About the Author

Thomas Fusilli

Thomas is an avid Disney enthusiast, visiting the parks 2-3 times a year and filling a lot of his free time with Disney related entertainment. In between Disney adventures, Thomas teaches high school English and coaches wrestling, and is a proud husband and dad. Follow Thomas on Instagram.