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Claiming your modern day fairytale

by Southern Africa Contributor

Nigerian musicians Omawumni and Waje premiered their first ever movie as producers in Lagos over the weekend, and the theme has got us all in our feelings. The film titled 'She Is' stars Nollywood regulars Somkele Idhalama and comedienne Chigurl, and questions the concept of a modern day fairytale and 'happily ever after' in a way that is more relatable than any of us could have ever imagined. Peep the trailer:

We grew up with Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast as fairytales and aspirations for ‘happily ever after’. In most African homes, girls were prepared early for the duties that come with being the woman of the house - cooking, cleaning, laundry - but of course we were banned from even thinking about boys, let alone hanging out with them and understanding their psyche. But just like a fairytale starts, develops and ends in under 2 hours, our parents expected us to finish school, graduate and get married in the wink of an eye. It was the natural progression of making your parents proud.

And for most of us, that sequence of events was the fairytale. In many cases, girls would follow their high school crushes to whatever University they were going to so they could stay close, and guarantee their happily ever after. I was one of those girls. I was in love with one of the most popular guys in high school, but of course my affections were shrouded in secrecy to my family because I was forbidden from dating. He was my senior by 1 year, and decided to go to a University in a nearby city. That worked perfectly for me, because I was sure I could get in and my parents could afford it.

We spent his first year of University (which was my last year of high school) in constant communication - we had email and Hi5. He had started a party promotions business with his friends to earn extra money and it seemed as though they were the coolest kids in on campus! I couldn’t wait to join them and be a part of the fun.

Fast forward through what was possibly the longest year of my life, and finally! I was reunited with Prince Charming. When I arrived and settled into my accommodation my curious mind wanted to see where he lived, and be a part of his life as soon as possible. But he said he had encountered some issues with his accommodation and was staying with friends. I happily offered space at mine because it was spacious enough, just until he sorted himself out. In the meantime we would go to campus together, cook together, eat together! It was just as I had imagined it. We were literally playing house.

I often felt that he partied too hard, but I told myself to get with the program! This was Uni and we were adults. Even when I came home one day to find him with a bleeding nose in the bathroom. I didn’t think anything of it, he said he wasn’t feeling well. My little apartment had started smelling like a Marijuana factory from him and his friends constantly smoking - but again, I told myself to lighten up. This was all part of the experience!

One day towards the end of the semester, our grades were posted on the notice boards. And in my excitement I decided to find his for him, so he wouldn’t have to come searching himself. His name was nowhere to be found. Not on any of the notice boards. When I asked admin, they said they didn’t have any student by that name or student number enrolled.

Excuse me?

It turns out that his first year of partying had also turned out to be a first year of failing school and dropping out. It also turned out that there was never a search for accommodation, he had used all his money to finance a baller party life.

My whole life as I saw it crashed into pieces. I was barely 18. I had a plan, a fairytale, and this was not it. This was not how my happily ever after was supposed to turn out. Where would I even begin finding a new prince who would graduate slightly ahead of me, get a job to get us started and then marry me after my graduation?

Well. It’s been almost 10 years and I haven’t found a prince yet. But I’ve also realized that I am so grateful that I was more obsessed with my sanity than I was with fighting for a fairytale. So many of my friends from University stuck through those broken and unhealthy relationships, and unfortunately very few were able to end up with what they deserve as queens. There are so many seemingly perfect fairytales that turned into nightmares - ranging from suicide to vicious divorces!

The moral of the story? The modern day fairytale is the story about the woman who takes time to work on herself, who is not obsessed with the prospect of the whirlwind romance, who doesn’t need to kiss a million frogs before she knows how a prince is supposed to behave. Because of the way we are raised, very few of us grow up with sufficient emotional intelligence - we are kept from boys and men for so long, that what most of us have to cling on to are either fantasies or references from home (which are not always ideal). We juggle relationships we have no business being in, with the timeline of expectation from society.

My advice? Live, travel, learn, question, explore, become! You can't sit and wait to get married, nor can you throw yourself at every potential candidate. And if marriage isn't a priority for you, then do the things that make you happy and allow you to grow as a person. Only you can define your happy, and your peace comes from within you (not from the check list that you think you should have). The irony of it all is that when you're truly at your best, people are automatically attracted to that.

I’m 30. I’m single, and it hasn’t killed me. And I’m living my best life. That’s a thing now. And anyone who still doesn’t get it in 2019 needs to get with that program. Oh yes, and one more thing: no matter what the future holds, I will without a doubt live happily ever after!

P.S. Thank God for the one that got away!


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