We are born into a world that gives us fairytales. They read to us about Prince Charming and Snow White before we even learn to walk. We hear about how he only had to see her asleep in the crystal casket to fall in love with her forever. We learn about Sleeping Beauty and her Prince too. Belle and The Beast. But we never find out about what happens after the wedding, after the kiss. We never know about the after “happily-ever-after”. As children, fairytales do not teach us about love, but create an illusion that love just happens to us, without fail or effort.
You grow up with this in your mind only to have it feed off the Hollywood versions of fairytales. The extreme gestures, last minute runs to the Empire States Building or airport, the last-10-minutes-of-the-movie-realizations that she is more than the best friend and the perfect speeches. That’s what you are to look for: prince charming, extreme gestures and aha moments that tell you that they are “the one”.
So, filled with that hope, you go into this world believing that you are a character in a story of your own. You jump all in when you first experience the butterflies, because you believe that’s it, they will love you even when you are old and senile, regardless of whom “they” or “you” really are. And when it turns out to be just that, the first love, and it’s over because they had to move for college, or you forgot the one-month anniversary, you find yourself deferring from the original plotline. Without realizing, you feel that you are no Sleeping Beauty, because if you were, you would have chosen better, done better and it wouldn’t have ended, right?
Years pass and you grow up and experience a couple more failures. And your drawn-out plot tangles, becoming flawed, deviating. And that’s unsettling, because it’s not what you are expecting and it’s not how you KNOW it should be. But maybe there is still time, you know. Maybe you can fix it. Or maybe you can shove all those expectations under the rug and forget about them.
So you quickly dismiss the feeling of unfitness and say out loud that, “at the end of the day, life is not a fairytale, that mistakes are natural”. But the funny thing is that while you do your best to speak these revelations to the world through inspiring quotes and statuses on Facebook, idyllic snaps on Instagram and well-played conversation pointers, deep inside you feel just outside the lines of what must have been your happy ending because of some sort of personal flaw you don’t know about. But you don’t want a happy ending. You want a happy-ever-after.
Unaware, our romantic experiences (read also as failure) don’t teach us more about whom we are and the potential of that, but act as a pair of scissors, cutting off pieces of a story that we believe was ours to have. And here comes the sad part: as long as we follow the fairytale plot, we’ll never have a happy ending, nor middle for that matter. Because as long as we believe that we’ve started with a “whole” and we’ve become less as life tried to mold us, we are on the losing side. As long as we see our past relationships as failure, we are the villains of our own story.
The truth is, there is no “one true love”. You are going to fall in love many times. You are going to love some people more than others. Sometimes, you are going to meet someone and think “This is it”. Maybe it will be. Maybe it will not. That doesn’t say anything about you. You are not flawed, nor have lost pieces, nor have lost chances. You are on your way to become more that you’ve ever been. And what is going to speak about you is whether or not you are going to open your eyes and learn: learn that you cannot be with someone who doesn’t want to move across the ocean with you, or that likes to wake up in the afternoon every day, someone that doesn’t want kids or someone that considers sneakers formal wear.
Learn that you like when they fight for what they want; or they open the cab door for you; when they text even though they had a long day; or they laugh, but do not mock your dramatics and they call their younger siblings on the weekends. Learn what you can live with or without. Learn the boundaries of your heart and of your body. Learn about living with a person. Learn about sex. Learn about fighting. Learn about giving too much or too little. Learn about loving. But, most of all, take note of the things that made a relationship end and not be “The End”. Because, as much as we love the “true love” part of fairytales, the relationships that we want have to have more than love to have a happily-ever-after.