“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten,” Neil Gaiman writes. As a fantasy-junkie, I’ve held onto this quote for a long time and I’ve applied it to my life for just as long. I’d like to apply it at least once more as I write this short piece.
Lately, schedules and ideas about what I should do this spring semester and who I want to be for the rest of my life have been consuming my mind. I suppose that it’s only natural as a junior in college to be a little worried about where I’m going. Although I’m incredibly lucky that I have been decided on my choice to delve into the wonderfully mixed-up world of creative writing for a while now, I’ve been constantly dealing with the fear of what happens next in the short one and a half years that I have left here at Hope College.
Lucky for me, and all of you out there who have been stressed about life in general, scheduling and all its stress comes just after Halloween weekend. I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one who had forgotten how wonderful it was to feel something other than stress for a short while. It caused me to remember a different side of myself that had been buried beneath the piles of homework and essays lately.
We all read similar stories when we are younger about dark woods that are home to evil villains and give a reason for shining heroes to exist. Those stories were the foundation of the creativity and magic that we knew as a child. For me in particular, they held a way to escape from the sometimes harsh reality that growing up and letting go can be. Dressing up this weekend was the best decision I’ve made in a long time when I think about it. To dress up as one of my favorite characters (and, frankly, to dress up at all) is an incredibly freeing choice that we all are able to make once a year. Ever since my siblings decided that we were much too old for trying to be someone else for a night or two, I’ve completely ruled out dressing up for Halloween from my mind. However, little did I know that my red-riding hood was exactly the cover I needed to forget my worries and know that I was not simply a student, but rather a part of the creative world, even if it was for only a night. So, here I am, refreshed for the decisions of life to come (I hope).
I think that in the face of all we have to accomplish in just a few short years, it’s important to remember that fairy tales aren’t true, but they do apply to our lives in ways that we don’t often think about. I know that I won’t be delivering goodies to my grandmother’s house for a living or trading in my jackets for riding hoods, but I will face wolves that aren’t as they seem. I will feel like I’m lost in the woods for a long time; maybe I already do. The point is that there is a little bit of Red in me, but that is not who I am any more than it is who I want to be. Still, it helps to know that her story turned out okay. For those of you struggling with your own dragons and wolves, know that your story will too.