Once upon a time, I was young, and I believed in princesses.
In the dreamy clouds of childhood, I created fairytales of my own. I was a princess, climbing with ropes of hair that never stopped shining, despite being dragged in the dusty corners of my tower. I was an enigma, fleeing the ball under the guise of the star-filled night. I was I was a maiden singing to the animals, and it didn’t matter that the robins in the pine trees by my house didn’t actually respond. I was someone. Someone who maybe wasn’t important yet, but soon would be everything.
Of course, children live in a haze. Eventually, the warped windows that blur reality to protect the youth are broken. Truly, reality is sunlight, the kind that makes you squint and your eyes bead with tears when you first step out into the sun after a long winter. The sun burns your eyes with a stinging pain, but you know that this shall pass, and soon, it does. However, those burning moments feel like an eternity that may never end, and that eternity is young adulthood. The window of ignorance is shattering, falling piece by piece, and you are learning how to see the flowers and sizzling pavement and the beauty of sun-baked summer days.
Somewhere in these moments, I suppose I upgraded from the happily ever afters of before to new stories, filled with protagonists instead of princesses. But really, weren’t they one and they same? The road to the picturesque ending was slightly more perilous and tricky, but still ending in a gleaming kingdom, elegant manor, or whatever other dream that could be achieved in imagination. If I waited, one day true love would swallow me whole like a tsunami and drag me into the powerful currents. It would consume my soul and leave me gasping for air, as true love must, the storytellers wrote.
Unlike authors would have you believe, the teenage years are not bursting with dramatic love triangles and eventual perfect endings. While I don’t blame them for giving me hope, the idea of storybook perfection was destroyed when I entered the years halfway between childhood and adulthood. Potentially happily ever afters did not abound. Great expectations, even the ones we hide from ourselves, are often crushed by actuality. So, I gave up. If perfection could not be achieved, at least for now, why try?
I don’t blame the books I’ve read, for they gave me hope. I blame myself for believing that perfection and happily ever afters are the only way to be happy. Life is not perfect; the future is not perfect, nor am I perfect. If I expect only the best, I will let all the fun, the dramatic, the crazy slip through my fingers like coarse beach sand.
Therefore, this is to all those boys I could’ve loved. This is for all the friends I could’ve had. This is for the family; I should be more forgiving. For my peers. The strangers on the streets. For myself. And the little girl with the tiara, a young me. For everything I missed because I expected more. This is story, my testament, the truest fairytale I’ll ever imagine. To you, I apologize, because I could’ve started a conversation and created something real.
There are no princes, and to be fair, I am not a princess. I am a young woman, flawed, but still striving to bring goodness into the world. And that is enough. I am not a delicate princess stereotype, so I can have adventures, make mistakes, see the world. I can be a doctor, a lawyer, or even a writer. I can tell my own stories instead of letting them be written for me.
Fairytales were my religion, but they are not my future. I will not let my life be defined by the infinite possibilities that could’ve been if I had realized this lesson sooner.