A guest post by Courtney W.
Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived with her two parents in a small valley. Her father was a scholar and her mother stayed home and played with her every day. When she would meet her parents’ friends, they would tell her what a smart and beautiful little girl she was. The term “genius” must have been thrown around at some point because eventually, she started announcing, “I genus!” (the nuances of language were still somewhat difficult, despite her apparent intelligence).
As she grew up, she excelled in many areas, particularly those in the academic realm. She gained 3 younger siblings and became quite adept at all things baby-sitting. She was very good at school and she had some friends, though not as many as she would have liked. She played sports and discovered the theater. She was good at many activities, though never the best… And this bothered her a bit. It nagged at her and made her wonder if her parents were lying to her when they told her she was not just smart, but capable of doing whatever she wanted to do, too.
When the girl was a teenager, her family moved to a new Kingdom. Here, the girl found herself suddenly the best at some things, simply by virtue of the fact that many girls in this new land had far less experience than she did in some areas, like sports. She felt more comfortable and started to believe that maybe her parents were right; maybe she was lucky and special and blessed, just as they had always told her. The girl lived for each day, enjoying the friends and hobbies she had in her new home, though she still missed many of the freedoms she had enjoyed in her homeland.
All too soon, the girl’s education approached its end. She knew that she, like most children her age, wanted to continue her scholarly pursuits, though she did not know what she would study. She longed to know what her calling was, but had no inkling of what it might be. Still, she applied to many schools in her home country, and though she asked her parents repeatedly if she could go to one in the city of her choosing, they insisted that she attend the school her father had attended. And so she did.
Going to school was quite an adventure for the girl. The Kingdom she had been living in was very restrictive, and it was strange to not only return to the openness of her home country, but strange as well to not be under her parents’ very protective eyes. She enjoyed this time in her life, but continued to feel as she had before: confused about her future, uncertain of her own talents, and untrusting of those who told her she could do well in life. And yet, like all young people, she had to choose a subject for her studies, and so she did, despite the nagging sense of “wrongness” that still plagued her.
Once again, the girl’s time as a student passed rapidly. Faced with the prospect of going out into the world to begin working, the girl realized that she did not want to work in either of the fields that she had studied. Panicked, she applied and was accepted into a program that would allow her to teach others, and learn to become a professional educator. The girl had always loved learning, and so she thought this might be a good plan for her future.
The girl’s time in the program was not easy. Although she loved many of her colleagues and most of her students, she did not enjoy the work her new job entailed. She felt trapped by structures outside her control and knew that she could not stay a teacher, no matter how much she wished otherwise. It was not her calling.
Once again, the girl was faced with a fork in her path; she could continue teaching, regardless of the emotional toll, or she could go in a new direction. Not knowing what to do, but sure she couldn’t stay on the course she was on, the girl applied to new schools to study a different subject she thought she might enjoy.
Once again the girl was good at school. She made new friends and enjoyed what she was learning. Shortly after starting, she began to suspect she was still not on the right road, but she decided to stick it out. She finished her studies, and moved to a different part of the land with her fiancé (during the girl’s first foray into higher education, she had met and fallen in love with a handsome prince, who she began living with after she decided to stop teaching).
The girl searched for a job in her new home but found that much to her chagrin, no one was hiring, not even a “genus” like her. She searched for quite a while, and even began volunteering. From this she learned that she probably had chosen the wrong path again with her studies, and began to despair that she would ever find intellectual fulfillment. She struggled to maintain her faith that she was capable, let alone intelligent.
And then one day, the girl reconnected with an old friend from her first round of studies. The friend was like a ray of sunshine in the girl’s life; she was happy and positive and SHE believed in the girl. She also believed in herself and the power of positivity and good deeds. The girl decided it was time to learn some new lessons and had many long talks with this new-old friend. The friend introduced the girl to wonderful women in her new home, and the girl began to once again believe that she was both capable and deserving of happiness. She began to seek new opportunities and to take chances she would never have thought to before. She tried new foods and new thoughts, met new friends and went new places. The girl still knew that she hadn’t found all of the answers she sought, but suddenly she was okay with that.
Some might say that this is not a true fairy tale, because there is no happy ending. The girl would argue with you, however, because she no longer believes in ENDINGS. Her new-old friend Trish taught her that rather than seek to be finished, she should simply trust the process.
And so, even though she doesn’t know where it’s going, she feels like she’s finally on the right path.