Disney, in some ways, teaches us that every girl is waiting for a young and handsome man who will swoop in and save us—that he will protect us from all that is evil; even from ourselves. True, Disney also portrays strong females—girls that dare to dream of a life better or different to the ones that they were given. And though I love Disney more than any self-respecting twenty-three-year-old should, I can’t help but wonder which aspect wins—damsel or heroine?
The point of this post is not to dig holes in the morality of Disney—I just needed a widely known example. I am getting so very sick of the concept, not solely promoted by Disney, that a girl needs to be saved.
I went through a phase a couple of years ago where I was convinced that if I found the right guy that he would miraculously solve all my problems—that he would cure me of all my inner evils and that he would somehow create a magical life for me. I realise, now, that that was a load of frog shit (for lack of a better phrase). The only person that can save me, is me.
I don’t dispute the power of being in love—that things initially bitter in life can develop a silver sheen. I’m not saying that love doesn’t feel like you have been saved, but I am saying that you should, by no means, rely on it. To be honest, I hate seeing a woman who hides behind their significant other, or constantly relies on having a companion by their side.
As a result, I am now completely the opposite. I am petrified of entering into a relationship where not only I would rely on him, but my potential significant other would rely on me. Some would say that this means that I am on the journey to dying a very lonely, old lady. I say that I am equipping myself to be able to stand on my own two feet. I find that other people are too unpredictable to rely on—they are too changeable. If there is one thing that I don’t want to be, it’s the type of person who craves constant companionship.
It wasn’t that long ago, that companionship was all that women expected from life. In the nineteenth century and earlier, all that was expected from women was to be arm candy—look nice, shut up, and bear heirs to keep their husband’s possessions within the family. Though, in some cases, love was present, more often than not, the marriage was unhappy, and the husband would take a mistress that would live under the same roof as his wife. The wife would then take the backseat, with front row views of her husband cavorting with another woman. This was classed as normality. Women finding lovers other than their husbands; an abomination.
If you were a female born into a family with very little fortune, your parents would wish, and push, you to find a husband with a considerably larger fortune than their own. Not only would they lose the expense of having to look after you year after year, but they would also be raising the status and net wealth of their own family. It was basically like selling your daughter to the highest bidder. Too bad if you weren’t born with a natural beauty …
If you were a female that couldn’t find herself a husband or, god forbid, refused to take a husband, you were seen as a failure in life—destined for loneliness, and if you didn’t have fortune (or brothers to house you once your parents had died) probably a convent or a poor house. I think this is why I admire Jane Austen a great deal—she was a writer, yes, but she also refused to marry for the sake of being married (a theme that is evident in her novels).
To live a life where marriage was your only alternative to being destitute would be horrible. And given that choice, I probably would have married merely for security. But living in this era—a time when women are fighting for equal opportunities and living their wildest dreams—it’s time to stop thinking about life in terms of marriage or failure. It’s time to stop looking at single women at eighty and thinking that it’s sad that she never married. That life may have been what she wanted. Just because she didn’t marry, doesn’t mean she didn’t live a happy life.
Too many times I have heard people say that someone’s problems would be solved if they had a significant other. It’s as if their depression or their anxiety will miraculously dissipate if they enter into a romantic relationship. As I said before, I acknowledge that entering into such a relationship would put a positive sheen on the depression or anxiety, but they are diseases and they are still there.
I have both depression and anxiety. A couple of years ago, I would never have admitted that. I knew I had them—I didn’t need a professional to tell me that—but I would never have said it out loud, or written it on the internet for all to see. I am working through it slowly, though, and it’s working. Every day I take a step forward, and I stand on my own two feet doing it. The worst thing, I believe, that I could do, is enter into a relationship where someone else needs to depend on me and, if the relationship didn’t work out, for me to come out on the other side more broken than I was before I entered into it.
I dunno; maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the one that’s broken and the rest of the world is put together. I just feel stronger knowing that I am recovering on my own—that all of the decisions I am making are my own and that all of the progress I am making is the strength that I still have inside me making the cogs turn.
Maybe once I am healed and my anxiety and depression are well and truly in check, I will feel ready to enter into a relationship and eventually marriage. But I am positive, that marriage will never be a goal in the endgame of my life.
So if all you lovely ladies out there are sitting there nodding your heads as you read this, repeat after me:
“I may have issues, but I’m not a damsel. Though I may experience some distress, I sure as hell don’t need a knight. I’m the one in shining armour. I can rescue myself.”