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[Other Original] [SWC 2021] Princess


Princess Era 🎀
  • 6,564
    • Age 24
    • she/her
    • Italy
    • Seen May 25, 2024
    My entry for this year's Writing Competition~

    You have called me Princess for as long as I can remember. It feels like you used it mostly as a term of endearment for your only daughter, or as a good omen for a happy and meaningful future. But the naive young me took every word to the letter and believed it to the heart.

    I used to live with you in that small point on a map, a quaint countryside settlement with not much to its name, save for that large palace towering in the centre of it. Yes, it paled against behemoths such as Versailles, Schönbrunn, or Charlottenburg, but to my untrained eyes, it was a stunning marvel of architecture in its own merit. Every time I passed by and took a glance at the building, or just felt its presence around me, my mind would immediately place me inside the Grand Ballroom, in the finest gown that the artisans of two hundred years ago could ever create, dancing and twirling around as I held the hands of a charming prince.

    You definitely contributed to that feeling, and I cannot blame you, really. After all, if there is one thing I cannot deny is that my childhood was, in fact, just lovely! You brought me inside that palace many times over the years, and let me play in the surrounding gardens to my heart's content. When carnival came around and I would ask to dress up as a princess, you would always endure my antics and make it happen for at least one day. Back when I was a child, everything was much easier.

    Onto more mundane things, I remember the binge of Disney movies and the shower of toys and merchandise to go with them. You knew what made my eyes sparkle and you kept giving more… but again, I cannot blame you. I don't have all of those toys anymore, because they are still at your place, but I still have the memories of playing with them in my head. Coming home after school and daydreaming as I played with my dolls was a constant of my later childhood, and something I still look back to fondly.

    And yet, those dolls were soon forgotten, as you may remember.

    I think it happened only after I was well into my Gymnasium years, and in fact, I am rather upset at myself for not figuring this out sooner. But finally, the epiphany came as I discovered the story of Elizabeth of Austria, also known as Princess Sissi. After all the cartoons and the kids' toys, I found out about who she really was and understood just how hard that kind of life can be on someone. Teenage me did not give up at the first obstacle though. And so, I stopped playing with dolls so that I could become one of them.

    From putting clothes onto a perfect, eternally happy body, to wearing clothes over a good but still amendable body that I was just starting to get to know and recognize as my own: it was just a short step in theory, but honestly it looked more like my first, pitiful attempt at taking a step while wearing high heels. That felt like the moment I had been waiting for my whole life and at the same time, like the least desirable moment for me to be in. All the pressure mounting from outside and inside was tangible during that period of my life: dishearteningly normal for a teenage girl, I will admit.

    I was critical, harsh with myself, but also fascinated by the idea of exploring the darkest secrets of people and understanding them to their deepest core. The school's own theatre club proved to be one of the best circles of friendships to get into, at that point, and eventually became my second home. I became a respectable actress, for an after school theatre club at least: graceful but commanding when needed, always trying to understand the character I was performing as. You probably remember all those occasions where you could hear me from the ground floor as I kept practicing the same scene over and over again, alone in my room.

    I suppose you will be proud to know that, after parting ways with you, your princess has finally debuted on the silver screen. After finishing Gymnasium and moving to a larger city, alternating between acting school and various simple jobs, I have in fact secured myself a role or two. I'll stop you there though - I would rather you not to be proud of me.

    Being assigned a rather unremarkable minor character, with a very one-dimensional personality and lines that I felt were uncalled for, was absolutely smothering. So was wearing the outfits that the crew hastily provided me, with any lack of fashion sense, or being treated the way I was backstage - something I would rather not to get into again. And the worst part is that I hate to admit this, I really do. Why did I not expect that to happen? Being an admirer of Romy Schneider - the woman behind that one Sissi portrayal I loved so much - and wanting to follow in her footsteps did not mean that I would actually succeed. Especially not considering that her career started at the age of fifteen.

    Times have changed since then, movies and directors have changed too, consumers even have changed. Sappy romantic comedies about office workers falling in love through some divine intervention appears to be one of the strongest movie archetypes right now - I know because I have caught you red-handed as you watched some - and I am the one who has to adapt. Except, I am not that adaptable. I get outshined by other actresses, I become doubtful, I feel angry.

    And yet you still have the courage to call me a princess.

    Look, I do not care what it means to you as much as what it means to me. And to me it means a lot of things I have desired my whole life and never really conquered. Feeling respected and admired. Feeling special not necessarily in the eyes of others, but in your own. Feeling unshakeable, and able to recognize your own merits and strength even when the world brings you down. Feeling at the forefront of society and the world. I have never got there and even when I thought I did, something escaped me.

    Times have changed but some things never did. Nowadays I look up to Queen Maxima of the Netherlands the same way I looked up to Sissi and cry in despair at the thought that I could be just like her. She embodies everything I am seeking for myself and even her fashion sense is an inspiration for me. And to think… to think…

    To think it all came down to a fateful encounter in Seville. Willem-Alexander befriended her without even telling her that he was heir to the throne, but eventually married her and made her become Princess of the Netherlands. Such a title fits her, undeniably, but it shall fit me as well! Even if the impression of princes and princesses I have always had was of people living on a different level, a different planet.

    You realize the problem I am facing, right? I have no Prince Charming coming to me. I have to rely on fate. I am not in control! And yet, this is the goal I have set myself ever since I was young. This is what I worked for throughout my life, from the moments I studied hard at school to the moments I played with dolls and wound down. But this goal… this meaning of life, it still escapes me to this day. It fades away like a man in the fog, walking away from you and reappearing somewhere else before disappearing again.

    I never realized what I was getting into, and kept asking for the moon. But all of you never stopped me either, and now my life has been wasted in search of a few fleeting moments of happiness. When I thought I was nearly there, destiny found new ways to hold my head underwater.

    Yes, I hate myself. I hate my larger-than-life ambition, I hate my disgraceful nearsightedness, I hate the fact that my frustration is all I have left.