Once upon a time, in a living room 800 miles away, clad in Winnie-the-Pooh footy pajamas, I discovered the whole concept of “once upon a time,” courtesy of Disney (and my dad, who was in charge of the remote).
Sipping on my sippy cup, one-third coffee, two-thirds cream and sugar (also courtesy of my dad, who was in charge of my Saturday sippies/consequent coffee addiction), I watched anxiously — mostly due to the caffeine coursing through my 5-year-old body — as Prince Charming, refusing to settle for a foot shoved ever so ungracefully into that glass slipper, searched the kingdom for his perfect fit.
And from the moment Cinderella glided in to her glass slipper, I had two major thoughts that would shape the course of my life:
1. Coffee was AWESOME.
2. Where was my Prince Charming?!
So, here I am, 21 years later, trading in my Winnie-the-Pooh footies (about time, right?) for American Apparel onesies, programmed to believe that one day Stephen, my shoe guy at Barneys, will disappear searching for a size 6 Lanvin and return with one of the Prince Charmings they keep in the back with the really good shoes, HOLDING the size 6 Lanvin that totally fits perfectly AND is on sale, and off we’ll stroll happily ever after into the florescent sidewalk night.
Not how life works? Oh, right.
Disney catches a lot of flack for setting unrealistic expectations for impressionable children who dream of hair so long (and strong) you can SCALE a tower with it, who fantasize about moats and living in a world where apples aren’t terrifying and, mostly, who believe in Prince Charming showing up, just in time to sweep you away.
But that’s not how life — or love, for that matter — works. Because if some dude rode up on his white horse to save you from getting hit by a red-light-running cyclist, you’d be like, but where did you get the white horse you weirdo, and no I’m not riding off into the sunset with you, I’ve seen like a bunch of 48 hours.
But maybe Disney did get something right: patience… and the importance of at least one pair of extra kick-ass shoes to make the waiting worthwhile.
Even though the scenarios scream fiction, the sentiment of patience resonates in both fairytale and real life.
There is a lot you can control — how hard you work at putting yourself out there, who you spend time with, whether you’re a wedged sneaker-wearer or not, but some things are left up to fate in an unexpectedly wonderful and terrifying twist. Wonderful because ANYTHING can happen. Terrifying because, you know. Anything can happen.
Exercising patience in a time when we use our smartphones more than our brains is increasingly difficult. Sure, Prince Charming could be just one (or 200) right swipes away, but you can’t summon his appearance with magic fingers, and, even if you could, you can’t make him choose you, love you, be the peanut butter to your little jelly. Happily ever after is as simple and complicated as waiting for that person who doesn’t need fixing or changing to be someone you really want to be with, that person who just needs you because you are you.
Maybe you’ve met your Prince Charming and maybe you haven’t, and I know the waiting is the hardest part, but just so the Disney fairytale notion isn’t a complete sham (and so the balance between damsel-in-distress and Destiny’s Child independent mud-crawling savior is clear) — don’t settle for someone just because they’re around, or even give up on a past someone who isn’t. We’re all on our own schedule and path, sometimes the timing doesn’t mesh. Live your life and be patient for the someone, the one who will show up (or reappear, as the case may be) and stick around for the long haul to share peeled apples (the poison is in the skin), to make sure you steer clear of all those rule-breaking cyclists, and also, to walk off into the sunset with you night after night. Or like maybe you could just binge watch Netflix instead. Charming is a modern one, after all.