Emma Swan, also nicknamed the Savior, encounters iconic fictional characters like Snow White, the Evil Queen, the Savior, Rumplestiltskin, Peter Pan, Jiminy Cricket, and Pinocchio in the real world, a place known as Storybrooke, Maine.
What I love about this show is that it takes characters we know from books, movies, and legends and watch them forge through pain, make sacrifices, pined for real love or faced their fears. It's always refreshing to watching them overcome challenges in positive and enlightening ways. Whether it's defeating evil or accepting their inner wickedness, Once Upon A Time offers plenty of life lessons.
Everyone deserves a second chance
"Villains" like The Evil Queen or Rumpelstiltskin, and even seemingly innocent heroes, make huge missteps on their quest for justice or vengeance. Fictional or real people can often be guided by the unhealthy mentors and influences to take one dark turn after another hoping it will lead them to a good place. People who have had their hearts broken or were once backed into a corner can convince themselves to do unspeakable things. Nobody is perfect. Nobody, except in the extremest cases, is beyond receiving a second chance.
Emma Swan, Belle, the Evil Queen, Prince Charming, Jiminy Cricket, Captain Hook, Cinderella, and Snow White - to name a few - have all faced adversities. In the pursuit of another's safety, adventure, understanding, true love, freedom from oppression, they learned to step up against their fears. It is far worse to allow our fate to be decided for us rather than taking it into our own hands. Confronting that treacherous mountain called Courage allows us to bulldoze the roadblocks of our dreams, even our most basic fears. What scares us will not go away if we ignore it or try to convince ourselves it isn't there; we have to make the decision to accept our courage, and use to to go forward.
Strength comes from unexpected places
Ruby is feared as the Big Bad Wolf. Moving beyond the aggressive nature of her nocturnal, alternative behavior, she's able to discover who she is more deeply than how the town fears her. Our jobs, peers, and even the media can confuse our self-esteem. Whether positive, or certainly negative, its easy to get caught up in the boxes people set us inside. Refusing to put more importance in our faults than our strengths can limit and even eliminate how we see ourselves. Opportunities are lurking everywhere for us to dig deep and find strength from unexpected places within.
Happy endings aren't what we expect
It's easy to get caught up in our ideas of what the future should bring and how life should turn out the way we want it to. We never know what's around the corner waiting for us. No matter if you set goals to achieve, or go with the flow of life's agenda, the outcomes of our dreams can never be pinpointed to perfection. Happy endings aren't always what we expect. Sometimes we get something even better than we could have ever imagined.
Take it from Emma Swan: Remove the real world from the girl, but that doesn't mean she's automatically going to believe in fairytales. At least not right away. Thankfully, in our world, magic doesn't come with the same kind of price it does in Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest. But, magic is out there. Goodness exists - just not in the ways we expect from the fairytales we grew up with. Fairy godmothers are everywhere if we just keep our eyes open; they just might not carry a wand and singing "Bippity Boppity Boo!" It may be a stranger who leaves us a bigger tip, someone who recognizes when we our in pain and helps us, or a beautiful sunset that captivates our attention. If we look at our daily lives and the little gifts we are given, straw is turned into gold every day.
True love is worth fighting for
Love bursts into our lives when we least expect it. Contrary to a popular belief, I don't think relationships or the partner you're with should be difficult. Like there should be so much work in a relationship that both people are miserable and toxic towards one another and others. We should pay attention to the energy someone brings into our otherwise spectacular day, and try to take note of the signs if they are not a right fit. Being in the same company of the person we love should feel smooth and safe. Unlike Prince Charming and Snow White, we may not have memory-wiping curses, enchanted spells, evil trolls, and the Evil Queen's army to ward our relationships against, but true love is worth fighting for. Healthy, beautiful relationships are all about standing up and supporting one another, as well as knowing which battles to pick and when to compromise.
Live in the present moment
Our pasts are a foundation to who we become. We as human beings have a tendency to relive what happened to us, whether someone wronged us or made us feel small. We easily get caught up in the stories of our lives instead of living it out with every new day. The wicked nature of Snow White's betrayal, for example, drove the Evil Queen's ambition for years. Once she accepted what happened to her, she was able to move on and transform from into a hero in her own right. Every day is a new chance to choose between what is right or wrong. History is good to learn from and to better prepare us for a future. But, it'll only do us good if are living in the present moment.
Life isn't easy, whether it's in the Enchanted Forest or the real world. Most of the time it can feel like the odds are stacked against us and none of us will ever get our happily ever after. The challenges set in front of us are just mountains that need to be conquered. They are not excuses for us not to chase our goals. Honestly, no one can or is stopping you from making the life you want. If you want to change things, go ahead and change them. Don't let anyone hold you back.
Moving into a new city, attending college, or even just trying to fit in when you are born to stand out can make isolation a mean monster. Often we think it's better and safer to put a guard up. We can protect the pain others have caused and cushion that unforgettable feeling of being on our own. Reaching out and allowing others in is the best cure. When we value our families, find our community, rally up a group of friends who love and support us, there is no such thing as anyone being alone.
Embrace who we are: the good and the wicked
No one is controlled or born as wholly good or wholly "evil". Whether we consider ourselves similar to a hero or a villain on any tv show, movie or book, everyone makes mistakes in the heat of the moment, for the good of others, for what they think is right, and for protecting themselves from further pain. We are all complex people with a range of light and darkness inside us. Our good decisions and strengths are as equal to our weaknesses and poor judgement in the making of who we are. Find ways to embrace who you are, the good and the wicked.