An excerpt from Happily Never After:
…I began using that information to inform my search for Prince Charming. Oh where, oh where could I find him?
In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Snow White eats an apple, faints, and her “Prince Charming” comes to rescue her with a spell-expelling kiss. The problem with that attempt is I didn’t know any witch doctors that could mix up a magical potion.
In Cinderella (my favorite), Cinderella loses a glass slipper, Prince Charming scours the countryside to find her, fits the slipper perfectly to her foot, and rescues Cinderella from her evil stepmother. The problem with this scenario is I weigh too much to even wear a glass slipper and I see no ball coming up in my near future.
And in Shrek, ‘Prince Charming’ actually never arrives at all, because it turns out he is a coward. No thank you.
Unfortunately for me, none of these were viable options and I definitely could not risk getting poisoned for ‘Prince Charming’. But, what I did do was devise other ways I could prepare myself for my “Prince Charming” while I was waiting for him to show up. You do not necessarily need to strictly date other people to get practice. There are plenty of other ways you can learn.
I first began with learning about myself. The most common advice I get on how to have a successful marriage is to be confident and independent with yourself before you can attach to and share your life with someone else. The breakup threw off so many notions I thought I had about myself that turned out to be completely incorrect; I thought I enjoyed spending my Saturdays, sleeping in until noon because I was out socializing and partaking in eventful, social activities the night before, but it turns out, I would rather go to bed early so I can make my yoga class and do fun afternoon social activities. I was not sure if I ever wanted to have kids, but it turns out, I actually do. I thought I wanted a labradoodle puppy, but it turns out they are extremely expensive, I am Dutch, and a rescue from the pound would be just good enough.
I learned about myself through observing the world around me, and tracking my reactions (that is mindfulness at play, folks!). If something happened that made my heart swoon or make me smile, I would put it into my list of “things I like”, and if I got really heated, really angry, really disgusted, I knew it was something that did not work for me.
For example, when I went to see a sports’ broadcaster speak at a conference, I learned that I actually do not like high society. The broadcaster talked about how, after she graduated college, she worked as intern at a local radio station, submitted a tape to a producer on a whim, and now is best friends with all of these really famous athletes and goes to their houses for dinner all the time. I found myself thinking, “Wow, that is really great for you. But I don’t really like people who brag about all the ‘celebrities’ they know and how cool they are. I would rather talk to someone, like myself, who works with the people in the trenches, who sees the obscurities of the world, who gets invited to normal people’s dinner parties (and clad in jeans and a t-shirt is perfectly acceptable), because I sure as hell do not like to dress up that often”.
I learned about myself through reading. I read The Happiness Project, which is basically about this lady, who decides one day she is not really happy, and spends a year researching ways to be happier, and writes about it. While her ideas towards happiness are not necessarily jaw dropping or drastic, she focuses on changes such as cleaning the clutter out of the house, trying to stop nagging her husband, spending more time doing crafts and art projects. I really enjoyed the book, but the entire time I was reading about her apartment and riding the subway and the masses of people, all I could think about is, “Ug I would hate to live in New York. My pores would clog so bad in that pollution”.
Or, I went to a festival and my whole day was ruined when someone lit up a cigarette and blew smoke all over the unprepared crowd. All I could rant about all day was how inconsiderate it was for that person to smoke in front of everyone, and how they should have noticed the rest of us were not smoking for a reason. Lesson learned: don’t date a smoker.