And they lived happily ever after.
But what if they didn’t? Or at least not in the way the storybook prescribed. Let me explain.
As my 2-year-old daughter becomes more aware of her surroundings, her emotions, and her independence, I’m especially aware of those darn princess stories. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about a good princess story. The intrigue, the elegance, the fancy clothes and the adventure that usually involves some sort of insurmountable obstacle that is overcome. It’s the stuff literary dreams are made of, am I right?! But what about the stuff little girls dream of?
Where is the princess story about her royal highness who pursued her degree in welding or electrical engineering? Where is the story about the princess who married another princess? Or how about the one where she saved herself from the insurmountable obstacle?
Let’s pull this storybook thread a bit further. Remember when Cinderella lost her glass slipper and the prince found her and they lived happily ever after? What if Cinderella ditched those glass slippers before she even had a chance to lose them and started her own home cleaning company with the skills she’d acquired. And it’s now a franchised company in a tri-state area.
Remember how sleeping beauty had to wait around for like a hundred years before that darn prince got around to waking her with his kiss? What if Sleeping Beauty had taken an Ambien on her own accord, got her calculated amount of sleep, woke up well-rested and decided to get her college degree at 54-years-old? That’s a magical ending right there.
And remember when Ariel and Prince Eric got married and she moved to his place? What if they tried hard to make it work, but it just didn’t happen and they got a royal divorce? Ursula and Scuttle probably weren’t the greatest therapists, but Ariel and Eric are now living a different kind of happily ever after.
My point is this: Princesses are pretty awesome gals, but I would love to hear a story about how they saved themselves. And how they made their own way. And how they conquered their own insurmountable obstacle. Maybe even while wearing a fancy dress.
So, here goes:
Once upon a time, in the land of 10,000 lakes, a princess met her prince. They attended royal college, had a stately wedding, purchased a castle in the suburbs and had two royal babies. And they lived happily ever after.
Let’s start again. Once upon a time, in the land of 10,000 lakes, a princess met her (then) prince. They attended royal college, had a stately wedding, purchased a castle in the suburbs and had two royal babies. And then they didn’t live happily ever after. The tales of their demise ran different versions throughout the land until it ultimately didn’t matter why they were not going to be his and her majesty for the rest of time. What mattered was taking care of those royal babies.
What mattered was showing this next generation of prince and princesses what it means to conduct oneself with grace, humility and respect.
What mattered was the princess realizing she had more inner strength than she ever realized. She could run a castle (deplete of servants and butlers and staff I’ll have you know). She could work full-time. She could raise royal babies. She could carve pumpkins, shovel snow, change light bulbs, and manage the royal ledger.
What mattered was the princess realizing her true self-worth. And figuring out how to care for herself. And realizing she didn’t need anyone else to make her feel validated or proud or accomplished.
What mattered were the friends and family lifting this princess up when she needed it. She surrounded herself with those that allowed her to grieve, rage, cry, and process. They didn’t ask her to be in a certain place mentally or physically at any time. They included her in royal date nights. They called her every day. They made plans with her when the royal babies were with the prince. They supported her and loved her. And they, too, conducted themselves with class and dignity.
One should not assume the princess came to this place of Zen immediately though; she used her resources. If you are a princess or prince feeling similar or going through a royal pain of a time, know you’re not alone. Talk to someone. Journal. Cry. Just BE in your feelings. Take care of yourself, whatever that looks like for you.
It’s time to rewrite this fairy tale.
There are so many versions of “happily ever after” so write one that fits you. Write one that makes you feel great. Write one that helps you be the best, majestic, royal version of yourself!