The Lonely Princess.
One glass of Merlot, Henry Mancini’s The Lonely Princess, and an emotional flip through old photo albums was all it took for me to know exactly what to write about.
It’s Friday night, and once again, this princess is alone.
The pattern isn’t unfamiliar, and though I’m comfortable in its familiar pages, I’m also becoming desperate for a change.
In the pages before me, a smiling and confident younger me looks at the camera with such contagious and pure joy that it ironically brings tears to the my eyes.
The princess who’s crying (hello, it’s me), merely a few years older than the girl looking back at me from behind plastic covers, is looking for something.
I’m on a hunt, a hunt that I’m hoping will bring clarity and lead to the discovery of where and when it went wrong.
Because all those years ago, that younger girl in the photos was smiling in a brighter place than I felt like I was currently in.
Perusing through photo albums and old journal entries, the kind of entries noticeably marked by tear stained pages and runny ink, I’m trying to put together the pieces and find the moment when the world went from bright eyed to teary eyed.
In particular, when I became disconnected with the girl I used to be.
See, once upon a time, I used to be this incredibly confident woman who held the world at my fingertips. What came with this confidence was this feeling of power and peace with who I was, and like Barbie, I believed I could do and be anything.
Like most people, I blindly followed the path from living at home to living with roommates, whilst checking off the high school, college, and even the study abroad accomplishments I was taught at a young age to follow. It was during those years that I felt the most sure of myself, the most confident, and I trusted who I was and where my path was taking me.
I was a part of this rich fulfilling girl gang, surrounded by like minded people, and I was this curious sponge soaking in all I could about the industry in which I was so passionate about.
When that last box was checked, I was left, not with an offer at my dream job (which, in my eyes, meant being my own boss), but a gigantic question mark. The kind that I’d been forewarned about as graduation drew near, the now what are you going to do with your life? question.
But I didn’t fret. I trusted myself and my talents and believed that I could still do what I had set out to do all those years: write, and someday edit my own magazine.
There was one flaw in the plan though: I didn’t know where to start. And instead of trying to problem solve and figure it out, I locked myself in a tower of self-pity.
Fast forward to today and you’ll find me hunting through past memories, trying to find the one key piece I think I lost when I locked the door to my tower:
The princess crying with her hefty glass of Merlot has lost belief in herself.
I’ve lost my trust, confidence, and faith in who I am and all my unique qualities that I’d embraced and celebrated for so long and am left feeling incredibly alone.
Somewhere on the path of being lost, I became disconnected with myself. Where once I felt physically inflated with joy because I was so aligned with who I was, I now feel detached and incomplete. My days are lonely not because I don’t have romance or a close group of friends, but because I’m no longer comfortable in my own company.
What bothers me the most is that I know what it feels like to be so connected and in tune with myself, so it frustrates me to no end to feel so far away from something I used to feel energized by before. I’m struggling to figure out how I lost hold of that power within and I’m trying to rekindle that relationship I used to have with myself.
It was an honest and tough conversation between me and my closest friend that resulted in a verbal affirmation that it wasn’t the world that didn’t believe in me, it was that I didn’t believe in myself. And ever since then, I’ve been determined as hell to reconnect with that girl in the photographs from so many years ago.
This princess is lost, plain and simple. I’ve wandered so far away from my true self, listening to the naysayers and the societal messages telling me I should follow this prescribed plan, that when the time came for me to face the future, I was lost without some form of laid out path. I was never taught the tools on how to get there, I was just told to get there.
This world obsesses about the end outcomes, foregoing the most important part of getting there: the journey. And I’m finding that in this rather tumultuous journey, the low points are often the periods of the most growth.
I’m close to finding what I’m looking for because already, I’ve accepted that I am, in fact, lost. And being lost shouldn’t be considered a bad thing, it simply means I’m on my way, maybe just off track a little.
Think about all the great fairy tales with the princesses and the happy ever afters. Not one of those stories was ever told with a story line in which everything went right and according to plan. In every one, there were disasters and hurdles to overcome, because what kind of story would it be without them? Whether it be evil witches, cruel godmothers, conniving villains, or literal Hades from Hell, every fairy tale had to suffer some form of hindrance This usually results in conflict resolution, a lesson learned, and that happy ending we all know so well.
In my fairy tale, being lost is is currently my obstacle. And the brilliant thing about knowing and accepting that fact is that it’s all part of my story. Per Maxie McCoy in You’re Not Lost, “…feeling lost is a wildly wonderful thing. These crap feelings are about your process of achieving clarity. Breaking points break you open. They lead you to the light. If you never face these feelings, you’ll never have the option to rebuild a path you’re fully pumped about.”
I never found what I was looking for in my photo albums and journal entries because I knew all along that what I’ve been looking for has always been within me. My self-confidence was buried, hidden, tragically shoved so far down when I let those toxic thoughts in, but it never left me. Sometimes though, it takes some outside affirmation from a friend and a painful trip down memory lane to reinforce what my heart has been trying to whisper to me all these years. The princess in this story is slowly learning to trust herself again and believe in all that she is, regardless of what the world has told her otherwise.
I’m slowly getting back in touch with myself, with this girl I used to be. It’s about time I learned to look around and honor where I am instead of comparing my life to the happy one I had in college, or fantasize about the big future up ahead. Life isn’t happening back there or up ahead, it’s happening now.
So if it’s happening now, why wouldn’t I make the most of my current situation, regardless of being lost, and embrace where I’m at, wearing a bitchin’ outfit while I do it?
You know what’s unique about this fairy tale ending?
The princess won’t have the knight in shining armor, the fairy godmother, the enthusiastic army, or her brave ally coming to rescue her from the tower she locked herself in.
In this story, the princess ends up saving herself.
A big thank you to Joshua Valdestra for the photos!