Everyone loves Cinderella stories. You know, the ones that go like this:
Team Cinderella is a group of kids living in an underserved community. They had no money, no vision for their future, and no experience in [insert sport/art]. What they had was raw talent, and unbreakable spirit. They are usually misunderstood by their family and community, and just when it seems that they will just end up as a bad statistic, a champion arrives! A coach/teacher/mentor who recognizes their talent, and pushes them towards an impossible dream. This awesome person will find the resources and convince skeptics, even at the expense of their personal lives.
They arrive at their first competition a bit bewildered. Team Evil Sisters come into the scene. Usually a group of over privileged kids with years of experience, a long history of winning, and support from school and family. They look at Team Cinderella with either pity or disgust, but never respect.
Cinderella usually doesn’t win the first competition. That would be too easy. They might be dejected, but their champion is there to keep their spirit up and they rally for the next competition. They surprise the skeptics. Begins to win a competition or two or ten.
They get to the final stage. Things don’t look good. Team Evil Sisters now takes them seriously and the pressure is building. There are mishaps and it seems like all hope is lost.
Then they win.
Of course they have to win, losers don’t make it to the big screen. I watched a couple of these movies recently. One was McFarland USA, and one was Spare Parts. It just so happens that they are both based on true stories about poor Hispanic immigrants’ surprising triumph at things they are “not supposed to be good at.” SPOILER ALERT: they win at the end. They earn the respect of their families, people who didn’t believe in them, and their competitors.
And lived happily ever after?
No, of course not. Haven’t you seen Into the Woods? (Another spoiler alert: Cinderella and Prince Charming have marital problems)
The end of the movie shows what the protagonists ended up doing after their big win. And, perhaps it’s a little elitist of me, but I was slightly disappointed. Perhaps compared to their peers, they already achieved more than anyone expected of them, and they should already be extremely proud. But I can’t help but think, if Team Evil Sisters ended up in the same place, they would probably be considered underachievers. And getting beaten by Team Cinderella in that one competition, or even a few more after that, is probably an insignificant setback overshadowed by many other successes later in life. Their lives crossed at that point and for a brief moment the underdog triumphed, and then life went on.
That’s why you don’t compare yourself to other people, my rational self wisely interjects. And I understand. Besides, a materialistic measurement of success defined by money, position, and status doesn’t correlate to people’s satisfaction with their lives. Still, I was hoping for more. I guess in that sense I’m still an idealist. Life should be what we make of it, and we should be able to achieve whatever our heart desires, as long as we have heart.
Maybe I should really stick with fairy tales that end with happily ever after 🙂