I’m six years old, watching a princess like I’ve never, ever seen before. She’s standing up to this huge bad guy, talking smack to the handsome guy who came to rescue her, and grabbing a gun to save the good guys from the bad guys, because she’s been doing this for a while and they clearly don’t know what the hell they’re doing.
I’m in college, on one of the worst dates I’ve ever been on – seriously, I left the theatre to call one of my best friends from a pay phone on the corner, and cry – and only stuck it out because we were watching a movie about her real life, her crazy relationship with her mom, and her crazy relationship with herself. I would later read that book, Postcards from the Edge, and took from it this line, which pretty much summed up my 20s: “You know how I always seem to be struggling, even when the situation doesn’t call for it?”
I’m in my 30s, married with two kids, a good job, and can’t figure out why I can’t stop crying. I read another one of her books, where she tells me that being a princess wasn’t always what it was cracked up to be, and that she had trouble crying all the time, too. But she looked that monster in the eye and made fun of it, just like she cracked wise at that short stormtrooper years before. And she let me know it was okay to laugh at that monster, too. Her quote from Wishful Drinking, “I feel I’m very sane about how crazy I am”, has been my battle cry ever since.
I’m 45, I’ve added one more kid and about 40 pounds more to the mix. I’ve stopped crying every day, thanks to being okay with embracing the crazy and also getting some help with it. I’m not thrilled when I look in the mirror, but you know what? Princess Leia got some shit for it, too. And people all over the world decided to give her grief about it, but did she cry and eat a sleeve of Oreos? Well, maybe, but what she Tweeted was, “Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately, it hurts all three of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.” So there.
I’m 46 and my first role model is gone.