As a little girl, like many a little girl, I often reveled in fairy tales, particularly stories in which brave women overcome unfortunate circumstances to earn their happy endings. Granted the heroines are often products of their time and, yes, some take a background role to their own rescue, but I still believe the tales have wonderful, unmatched value in the way we understand magic and beauty. Despite protests and feminists arguments against her, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Cinderella.
The story of Cinderella is known the world over; there are hundreds upon thousands of different cultural interpretations and re-tellings. Traditionally, storytellers focus on the goodness and patient nature of the protagonist, but more modern adaptations spend time developing a stronger, determined character willing and able to change her life prince or no. In my opinion, all these various have their value, but I think the strength of the story is held within some underlying facts.
Even as a young child I always admired Cinderella’s ability to negate misfortune with kindness and determination, and the simple belief that these virtues are rewarded in their own time. I know she comes under a lot of flack for being the damsel in distress who just wishes for a rescue and gets it, but I never really saw it that way. To me, Cinderella represented how important it is to let good things happen to you, and to find hope and belief even when times are tough. The story shows how to find patience even to those who are hurtful towards you, and not to give up when all your effort seems worthless. It solidified to me that sometimes when you do the best with what you’ve got, and eventually you get a little help from the Universe when the time is right.
In real life, of course, you have to find a way to be your own fairy godmother.
The truth is, in recent months I have had reason to feel incredibly lucky, blessed my good fortune to the point of being afraid to believe it’s real. I’m currently sat in my bedroom on a warm summer evening, a cool breeze blowing the scent of freshly cut grass through the window, looking at the dress I will wear to a ball in a few weeks time. The dress was purchased for me by the man who will escort me to the event, a wonderful man, who is patient and understanding, kind, loyal and courageous, worthy of the title prince. In my preparations sometimes I get bogged down with the idea that I have to live up to the fairy tale.
Remember that moment in the Disney version of Cinderella, when she arrives at the palace in her magic gown and class slippers, steps into the ballroom, and the whole room stops to notice her walk towards the prince and they dance? I’m not specifying I want anything like that to happen; I wouldn’t covert the attention of an entire room like that; I don’t believe I hold glamour enough to accomplish it and I care not for the judgement of others in that respect… save one. It would be nice if I could make just one jaw drop. The only jaw that matters to me.
But the dress is too big and must be altered, and I have yet to find someone free and skilled enough to help with make up and beauty treatments, areas which I am neither confidant nor competent with. Suddenly, I am thrust into the role of my own fairy godmother, performing magic through my efforts and getting my vision to come true, believing that if I keep trying hard enough, the matters will work themselves out. However.
Even the details fail, and the dress is still too big or too small, and my make up is a handmade mess, and my hair falls short of grand by miles, then the key is to find joy beyond the dashed expectations, don my invisible crown, hold my head high, knowing I did everything I could to be everything I hoped for. Smile, and hope that single gesture can push through the happiness I feel at just being there and experiencing a moment I have dreamed since as far back as I can remember. Because the real dream, the best one, already happened, a few months ago in a single moment, when I first laid eyes of him, and dared to say ‘hello’. That’s real magic; it doesn’t come packaged as balls and dresses and a pretty made up moment, but in tiny moments of courage and hope, when you break the mold and push for something you want, when you put a bit more kindness or joy into the world, even when you feel sad and lonely.
Just like Cinderella, that one moment of magic will catch you, often and only when you never even saw it coming.