Happily ever after

by Siya Patel, Managing Editor
photo by Becky Dozortsev

Disney made my childhood nothing short of magical, with talking critters and courageous princesses who followed their hearts. My favorite memories centered around a small, black television screen and a few Disney DVDs. No matter how many times I watched a film, its catchy songs and animations never failed to enchant me. If I wasn’t admiring Cinderella’s gorgeous dress, you’d probably find me vandalizing my Beauty and the Beast coloring book in fluorescent yellow crayons. 

While my favorite Disney characters comforted me, I still caught myself feeling eager to grow up. I would imagine what it would be like to have my very own prince Aladdin, loaded with money that could buy me all the candy I desired. My fantasies made me childishly believe that age equated to experience and happiness. My thoughts always followed the lines of: “I wish I could grow up already,” and “when I have my own money, I’ll buy an endless supply of strawberry sprinkled donuts.” 

Although these hopes and dreams continue to linger in the crevices of my mind, I wish I could turn back time and adopt my 7-year-old mindset of finding excitement in the simplest things rather than letting this enthusiasm fade away. 

The “happily ever after” I had seen so often portrayed in my Disney movies does not measure up to my life right now. I find myself wasting my limited teenage years simultaneously stuck in the past and future, allowing the present to slip by. Teenage years are supposedly a time of recklessness, sneaking out and rebelling, a free-for-all period before the responsibilities of adulthood kick in. I am supposed to be making memories I will cherish in adulthood, yet, I fill my days consumed with the anticipation of growing up. 

To me, the present is merely an obstacle to surpass — my motto in life has turned into “all this work better pay off.” Like Alice, I find myself at the pit of my own rabbit hole where I wallow in my worries for the future.

Distracted by the possibilities of the unknown, Alice fails to notice the peaceful river and green nature around her; to me, the future is what prevents me from noticing all that the present has to offer. The idea of college is enticing: a faraway place that can transport me to a whole new world filled with magic and excitement. College embodies the ultimate dream that I have worked towards for the past few years. 

Years where I have buried expectations upon myself leaving me feeling mentally exhausted. My mind focuses on the idea of college so much that I completely lose focus of what truly matters in life: my happiness. 

This way of life isn’t truly living, however, and Ariel’s story is the perfect embodiment. Even as a princess who seemingly has everything she could want, she is envious of all the riches on land. Constantly yearning to experience the human world — to live a life with human legs and a human boyfriend — she can’t enjoy the wonders of being a mermaid. If we, like Ariel, focus on what could be rather than what is, we will find ourselves missing out on precious time. 

The ability to perceive the magic in life that we once saw as kids, when even a rainy puddle is exhilarating to jump in, gets lost as we grow older. This is because when we are young, we view our futures as ideals, something to be accomplished as our lives progress. Everyone has the tendency to believe that there is something better than what they have now, so they are never able to see the true beauty of the moment. What many fail to realize, though, is that anything and everything can bring you happiness, if you’re willing to have an open mindset.

I’ve learned to not let my surroundings get the best of me and to enjoy the simple things in life. I make sure to take time out of my day to do things that bring me happiness, whether it’s spending time with my parrot, crocheting cute tops or even just laying underneath the sun listening to Moana songs. 

I still embrace the magic of Disney, and awaken my inner child to simply have fun in my teenage years. Disney taught me what it means to see ordinary things as extraordinary. What matters now is enjoying the magic of the present for what it is.