When I was a little kid, I always felt somewhat compelled to believe in the fairy tales I read in the books. That one day I would wear that same exact sparkly, white dress and my suave, handsome prince charming would then proceed to carry me off to his giant castle on a hill to live happily ever after in the fantasy my head conjured. Nevertheless, what are fairy tales?
Seven years ago on a bad day, I would have simply submerged myself in one of my fairytale fantasies and hope that the day would come to an end; now on bad days, I turn to friends and family for help and advice to solve my mid-day crisis. Though the transition from mental illusions to actual conversations isn’t much, sometimes I would lie in bed at night and close my eyes and think of the fairy tales I read, and I would have complete and utter faith. Prince Charming, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, they were all so close I could taste them; but eventually I grew up and after seven years, the conjured fantasy disappeared when I opened my eyes. Prince Charming no longer came to whisk me away, the Tooth Fairy never came back for any teeth, Santa Claus took every Christmas off and let my parents deliver the presents from the downstairs closet, and the sparkly, white dress became your normal, everyday clothes.
When facing the reality, the hardest thing to do is to let go of that fairytale entirely because just about everyone has that smallest bit of hope, of blind faith, that hopefully when they’re lying in bed, they’ll open their eyes and the fairytale of sparkly, white dresses, prince charming whisking them away—comes true. So what are fairy tales? Hopeful, dependable, silly little fibs that people can dream of to escape the ever-dreaded reality.
And perhaps the fairy tales I read in the books are slightly different from the fairytale I dreamed of. So maybe the castle on the hill isn’t really a castle on a hill but a small house on a cliff; and maybe the sparkly, white dress is just a layers and layers of white cloth; and maybe the happily ever after really isn’t a happily ever after but just a happily ever now.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.