Once upon a time, I read Disney fairy tales as my bedtime stories until one day in Grade 9, my teacher told us that the fairy tales from these Disney classics are not the same as the original written many years ago. I was shocked at the time, and through a class assignment I discovered the truth about fairy tales. My life went downhill from there because my belief system on the magic of Disney fairy tales no longer existed.
What I learned was that life is difficult and challenging; bad things happen to good people and true love never runs smoothly. So many of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories tell tales about people who die miserable and alone.
If I were to highlight five things that really stood out from this classroom assignment, I would say the following are the five key things I learned from fairy tales that would change my life forever:
- Read more books: La princesse Schedherazade from 1001 Arabian Nights extended her life each night by ending her tales on a cliff-hanger. Her storytelling, intelligence, and passion for learning eventually overcomes her cold husband King Shahryar, and saves her life. The moral is: we can learn so much from reading.
- Just do it: Perhaps this is where Nike got its slogan idea from, but Alice in Wonderland teaches us that we should throw all caution to the wind for a grand adventure. Follow the white rabbit, talk with strangers, and drink from a mysterious bottle. Sometimes, you just have to take risks for life to happen.
- Sometimes you can’t have what you want: The Little Mermaid teaches us that sometimes, you can’t have it all even if you sacrifice so much to try to get it. In the original The Little Mermaid, it’s a tragic tale where it teaches us how you don’t always get your prince no matter how hard you try. She gives us her voice, leaves her family, and changes herself just to be with him, but they still do not fall in love.
- Give people a chance: In Princess Frog, notice how the princess only kissed one frog which turned into a prince. So, it’s not that if you kiss a frog, your prince charming will appear. However, it’s the fact that you need to kiss the right frog. So, if you feel like it’s right, give the other a chance.
- It’s all about connections: The power of networking is seen in Cinderella because the whole story is only possible with the help of her fairy godmother. While many fairy tales commend the success of hard work or talent, in Cinderella, it reminds us that friends in high places can also give us a boost in life. Not like we should rely on these connections, but sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to just ask if you know someone. It’s not what you know, but who you know sometimes.