The best advice I’ve received from my parents is when my mother told me “life is not a fairy tale”.

The fact is, life sucks. This may sound pessimistic, but I’ve learned that it’s only realistic to accept that life sucks. Hatred, envy, crime, and bigotry are always rampant, and no one is exempt from being a perpetrator.

Sure, there are many wonderful things like the rain and kittens, but living life only seeing one or the other, pure despair or pure joy, doesn’t do anyone any good.

Most people who meet me wouldn’t expect my upbringing to be grounded in reality. I’m overly optimistic, always have a pip in my step, and identify as a dreamer.

Honestly, I daydream more times than is worth counting, each day. I believe that my imagination is more interesting than the “real world”, and that life is more fun when I can easily picture my ideals.

There’s no doubt that I was sheltered as a child, and had a natural aptitude towards introspection. I’ve always loved learning how to better understand myself, and worked to figure out the kind of person I wanted to be.

Combined with my love for Disney, I came up with some unusual, though not uncommon, beliefs about the world. For starters, I thought everyone had a soulmate and that we all had to find that soulmate before we go to college so that we can marry.

After all, none of the princesses went to college and they were all married before they became adults. If you’ve ever seen a princess movie or watched the Hallmark channel, you can see where these ideas came from. 

I grew up attending Catholic school, and marriage is a sacrament. It’s expected that everyone will get married at some point.

I watched Say Yes to the Dress and Bridezillas to come up with designs for my own wedding dress, and prepare myself to not become a monster like the people on TV. At the very least, I was a hopeless romantic. 

What I read in fairy tales and saw in the media supported the concept that as long as you are a good person, you’ll be alright in the end. The villains always receive the punishments they deserve and the heroes always have a happy ending. 

However, life is not a fairy tale. 

There will be times when determination and effort are not enough to get what you want, or feel you deserve. Some factors – or many, depending on your situation – are outside of your control. For example, the actions and beliefs of others.

Life is messy and complicated. You can’t make people change. Some people just aren’t going to like you. The good guys don’t always end up on top. The bad guys don’t always get what they deserve. Victims don’t always receive justice. 

Life is not a fairy tale

I learned during high school that the expectations I had for myself, and for society as a whole, were unrealistic.

People don’t change unless they choose to, and when they do it may not be for the better. Love doesn’t look like it does in the media. There are as many different forms as there are people. 

Even though my perception has changed, I’m still a hopeless romantic. This means that despite my belief in the magic of romance, I have more realistic expectations.

The term “soulmate” is beautiful, but I can’t pretend that there aren’t countless people who’d be able to be in perfectly happy and healthy relationships with different people at different points in their lives.

I no longer see a benefit in looking for “my other half”, because I want to be whole as I am. It’s no one’s job to “complete me” either. 

Since I’m putting my love life on blast here, I’ll share a secret with you: I didn’t finally accept this advice until last semester (Fall 2019)!

Make sure to check out my previous post on this month’s 30-Day Writing Challenge!

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