Growing up, I had one unwavering crush, and that was on Peter Pan.
Let me be clear: I was not a fan of the Disney movie in any way, shape, or form. I found it to be boring, confusing, and all-around dumb. Wendy, especially. Wendy was a tulip-headed girl who, in the face of adventure, acted the way a stereotypical girl might have. She took on a very feminine role, became the damsel in distress, and did nothing to help her cause whatsoever. Wendy, in my mind, was a useless character, and I felt it was right of Tinkerbell to resent the fact that Peter had fallen all over himself for a tulip-headed can-do-very-little-for-herself girl.
Peter Pan, though.
Peter Pan was what I’d always dreamed of. He was quick-witted, quick-tongued, adventurous, sarcastic… you name it. Also he could fly, and he would never, ever grow up. I watched countless adaptations of Peter Pan (in which some I liked Wendy more than the Disney one,) and the only Peter Pan I did not like was in Hook, but that was because he was already a grown man, and, hello, you are Peter Pan, okay, would you just believe in yourself and get your shit together already? (Rufio was the best character in that movie, and, side note, his actor went on to play Zuko in Avatar, who is one of my favorites in that show. Surprise.) It completely slipped my mind that the Lost Boys were all, well, boys, and I aspired to be one. When I learned how to unlock my bedroom windows, I would leave one opened every night, hoping that the redheaded boy from Neverland would swoop in, give me some pixie dust, and help me fly to a land of pirates and Indians and mermaids and adventure.
I never learned to want a prince. I never once wanted someone to ride in on a white horse and scoop me up out of my misery. I didn’t want my happily ever after to be because I got to go live in some big castle. Did I fantasize about being a princess? Yes. But my fantasies always consisted of me having Restless/Rebellious Princess Syndrome, wherein while I was a princess I would don my prettiest dress, ride a horse into the countryside, and slay and/or befriend a dragon. And there was no prince involved. And Peter Pan could offer all of that except my dress would be much more like Tiger Lily’s, which was more adventure-like anyway.
Of course, he never came to take me away to Neverland. I had to grow up. Since I didn’t know what else to do, I started looking for princes.
Except, I didn’t know how to look for princes. All of the princes I looked for reminded me in some way of Peter Pan. This one had a boyish face. That one had a mischievous smile. Another still acted like a child when it counted. Hell, for three years I dated a boy who would go out into his yard with me, have me pick out one of those hollow reed-stick things that grow straight up out of the ground, and he and I would sword fight with them. If that wasn’t Peter Pan eque, I don’t know what is.
Maybe I never wanted a prince because I never learned to be a proper princess. I still have no clue how to be a princess. I hate letting people do things for me, I don’t like wearing dresses, and if my hair/face/nails don’t look exactly right, I deal. I learned to be an adventurer, not a princess. Somewhere along the way, I figured out, I don’t need a prince. I need a sidekick. A partner in crime. I need someone who will adventure with me, and see me as a girl but not treat me like a princess.
And I think that’s what everyone, boy or girl, needs in a way, is a sidekick. None of this prince or princess crap. Not someone who will put us on a pedestal and expect great, majestic, beautiful things from us. We all need a Peter Pan, or an Aladdin, or a Flynn Rider or a Rapunzel. We need someone who can keep up with us when we decide we want to adventure.