Goodbye 18th Century, Hello 2019
Yesterday I watched Shakespeare in Love for the first time (Late, I know), and I recalled the days in which I would hopelessly daydream about living in that age. I dreamt of attending balls and wearing exquisite gowns, of dancing the night away and returning to my grand house full of butlers and magnificent gardens. These were all dreams influenced by the majority of the fantasy books I read, a hero would come along and help the princess, and they’d live happily ever after.
Only yesterday, as I was watching scenes unfold through the screen, seeing the way Viola’s concerns were pushed aside, and hearing the Lord Wessex listing off to Viola disgusting demands she'd have to follow was she to marry him (which spoiler alert she didn’t want to but did she really have a choice?), did I think back and Thank God I was not stuck in that dream, an unrealistic one. I dreamed to run away from my problems to not be where I am or who I am. I hated how dull my life was, I mean yeah I can wear pants now but what's the fun in that? Those were my thoughts at the time, now I understand how wrong and blind I was to the truth. In my world, I had a different name, a different skin tone, and I was whoever I wanted to be, and I guess being a white woman in the 18th century was the easiest and so I envisioned that. Not only that but in these daydreams, I had created high expectations for myself and for my life, that simply could not be met, ever except in dreams, and it resulted in me being extremely disappointed all the time. There was no need to create and uphold such imaginary standards that no one lives in now. Now I look back and realize that I only fixated my attention on the extravagant parts, constantly overlooking all the flaws and the toxic side of the 18th century. In the movie, Viola wanted to perform in Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet” because she loved poetry so dearly, she had to pretend to be a man to fulfill her dreams. At the time women were not allowed to perform in theaters, theaters!What else could they not do? How many jobs, opportunities, and adventures did they miss out in? I would've gone mad. I know now that no amount of gowns, balls, and beautiful castles are worth my dignity, none worth the misogyny, none worth the sexism, and none worth knowing my father could've sold me off to a wealthy man I hated just like Viola. Only now do I look around and count my blessings. Only now have I become grateful to be me, flesh and bone living in the 21st century. I cannot believe how women lived in that age and I will forever be grateful for the women who paved the way, for taking steps that were scary at the time but needed to be done. I’m grateful that I can wear whatever I want, grateful that I can work, and learn how to fight if I’d like, I can go shooting, I can study and I can drive.
The end of the movie is what saddened me most, evenwith all the trouble she had got in, even as she tried her hardest, she nevertheless had to marry Lord Wessex and travel to Virginia with him, she had no say, and I cannot imagine a life like that.
I had glorified my idea of the 18th century to an extent in which I was unable to focus on the present, to savor moments as they were. I have no idea how I passed all my classes all these years because instead of actually listening in class, I perceived this time as extra time I can use to daydream, and now I regret wasting so much of my adolescence living in a bubble of my fantasies.
There is nothing wrong in daydreaming about living somewhere else or maybe sometime else, however when you romanticize the idea so much you cannot enjoy the present, you'd have to rethink your choices. I tried so hard to escape from now, flee to the past, run to somewhere I imagined to be so beautiful, but now I am back, my focus on now and nothing else. Now I am home and I'm happy.