Happily Ever After is not a fairytale. It's a choice.

Navin

As a little girl, I loved nothing more than to curl up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch Disney movies. The princess and prince would find themselves in some terrifying situation, but they always saved each other and rode off into the sunset together. This ending left me feeling satisfied and happy — all was well in my world.

Looking back now, this message was terrible for anyone who might be struggling with what it means to live happily ever after, both romantically and through self-love. The reality is not all fairytales end with a "happily ever after." Unfortunately, life is not nearly as simple as Disney made it appear.

I think Disney did a fantastic job giving young girls a glimpse into what true love and romance look like, but they failed to prepare me for the fact that my prince charming would never come riding in on his white stallion to rescue me. The real-life happily ever afters are things I had to build myself.

The Disney princesses are some of the most loved characters in the world, but I think it's essential to take a closer look at what exactly is so appealing about these women. I specifically want to examine how these princesses can love so much.

For example, Sleeping Beauty falls in love with Prince Phillip because she wakes up to him standing over her bedside singing to her. Cinderella meets Prince Charming at a royal ball, and they fall madly in love after he dances with her. Ariel falls in love with Prince Eric because he rescues her from a life she cannot possibly understand. But what about Belle?

Belle doesn't find her prince charming because he's dancing at a ball; she finds him because he's sitting on his front porch kissing her sister. Suddenly the whole world has changed for Belle, just like it did for those Disney characters. She comes to love the world she lives in that one moment where she opens herself up to it.

Belle's love for the world, and all of its people, is inspiring. Something about her makes her seem different from everyone else. She doesn't look at the Beast with disgust or even a little fear when she first finds him. She looks at him as a human being — someone who is hurting and in need of love just like she is.

The biggest lesson Disney has taught me about love is that love can change everything.

I had a very different picture of what it meant to fall in love as a little girl, but I now know that love is something I created. The moment I realized this was the day my life truly began.

Belle's story is not a fairy tale — it's a true story of love that doesn't need any happy ending. The Beast cannot be cured. Her family cannot be saved. But love exists, and it can save the most broken human being ever created by God.

The whole "happily ever after" idea is a beautiful notion — we all want to believe that our lives will be filled with joy and we will live happily with our significant others forever. But very few people can truly achieve this.

I think true happiness comes from finding something you love about the world and then trying to live for just that reason. Once I learned to love myself and trust my ability to make my own decisions, I understood what it meant to live happily ever after. I believed that I could make my happy ending, and in turn, I saved my own life.

When we think of Disney princesses, we often think of them as perfect little girls waiting for their prince charming to rescue them. But the truth is that these princesses aren't waiting for Prince Charming — their prince charming is already there.

They're all living happily ever after because they found something to love about themselves and decided to live with it.

So here's to Disney for teaching us it's okay to fall in love with ourselves first.

Here's to Belle for learning that it's not our looks that determine the quality of her life — it's her ability to love herself and others.

Here's to Cinderella for wanting more than just a prince charming — she wanted a chance at a better life, one filled with love and compassion.

Here's to Ariel for learning that it doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from — all that matters is the person inside.

And last but not least — here's to Sleeping Beauty for realizing the world isn't about Prince Phillip or Prince Charming. It's about loving yourself first.

This is something we all have, even if we don't know it yet. It's called love, and I'm living happily ever after.

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Med students and always trying to see the world from my positive eyes

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