Donna Monnig: June 2014 Writing Challenge Winner

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The Secret Identity of …

Cinderella. The Disney Princesses get a lot of bad rap these days, but Cinderella was my first hero.

Heroic? Cinderella? Go ahead. Laugh. But it’s true … Cinderella had a secret identity. I should know, after all, I studied under her for years as a child. I watched Disney’s Cinderella again and again — nearly wore out the VHS — but it was necessary to learn all of the secrets hidden beneath each Technicolor layer of my favorite fairy tale.

For instance, I bet you didn’t know that Cinderella was a master of the power of positive thinking. She would have made a great motivational speaker and life coach had her royal duties allowed. Think about it, Cinderella is pretty much the ultimate success story:

  • She lost both of her parents at a young age.
  • She was left at the mercy of the original evil stepmother (not to mention her conniving
    stepsisters).
  • And she was a servant in the mansion that rightfully belonged to her.

Yet, Cinderella was never without a kind word or smile. Then, overcoming all that hardship, she defies the odds, bedazzles a prince, and lives happily ever after.

Not enough of a hero for you? Well you probably didn’t realize that Cinderella was also similar to Mohandas Gandhi.

Countless people resort to violence for far less than the hardships that Cinderella endured. Yet, all the actions she took, even secretly preparing and attending the ball, were nonviolent. And Gandhi taught that nonviolence was a weapon of the strong.

Cinderella could have sought revenge — justifiably so — but she was never less than kind, caring, and compassionate.

But the greatest thing I learned from this super-secret super hero was to never stop dreaming!

Watching Cinderella as a child taught me that dreams really can come true. Maybe not to the extent that I would charm Prince Charming, commandeer his castle, or hijack a team of mice via my fairy godmother, but still. The possibilities were endless.

(The only downside to Cinderella’s influence might be that I still dream about living in a castle one day!)

Child me wanted to be Cinderella. I imitated her by doing my chores, being optimistic, and likening my siblings to wicked stepsisters. And I never let go of my dreams.

Time has changed a lot of things. Yet, despite soul-sucking jobs, never-ending bills, and Murphy’s Law having a personal vendetta against me … I’m still a positive person. I still imagine wicked stepsisters when family drives me a little nuts. I still plan to buy a castle one day. (Or marry the handsome prince who lives there. Whichever.) And I still dream.

I learned a lot from this underrated heroine. Cinderella had the courage to seem ordinary until such time as she could show herself extraordinary. And I learned that just because dreams don’t come true in a day, month, or year doesn’t mean they can’t come true.

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