I remember when I first watched Star Wars. I was about 4 years old and my father had been so excited to expose me to a series that would remain with me up to this very day of my 23 years of existence.
The epic opening of scrolling text and fanfare immediately captured my little attention span as I hopped up onto the couch and watched my father's precious VHS scroll through the beginning of a saga of movies that would entertain me for years. After being introduced to the ensemble of intergalactic characters of various backgrounds and origins, there was one that stuck out to me: Princess Leia.
Growing up as a little gay boy, I never felt myself attached to the typical straight, male hero. I felt as if they were getting cliched and I just didn't associate myself with them. But in storms Carrie Fisher, changing the entire protagonist field to me. Sure, Princess Leia was the not strongest, physical character at the time. However, she made up for that with her . As someone who also was not the most athletic child growing up, that only enhanced her status as a hero to me.
Flash-forward to 2016, specifically late December 2016. I was out with a few of friends of mine at a Christmas party at this club and I decided to look at my Twitter feed. There were tweets about gossip, fashion news and the usual political nonsense of the US. But one news story struck me hard: Carrie Fisher's massive heart attack.
I panicked. I looked at my friend and immediately asked if she heard about this. She somberly said "Yes" and took a quiet sip of her gin and tonic. The pounding lights and music ran through me but I couldn't feel anything seeing as though this heartbreaking numbness affected me as the news of one of my childhood heroes was dying before my eyes.
December 27, 2016. I'm here at work and I decide to open my Tumblr. I am bombarded by posts saying "R.I.P. Carrie Fisher" and "May the Force be with you". I quickly look through Twitter and find the heart-stopping news.
Carrie Fisher, dead at age 60.
Carrie Fisher was this divine free-spirit. She was unabashedly herself and she was genuinely unique in so many ways. She was this cheerful and sassy individual that championed the weirdos and freaks. She loved those who didn't fit in. She showed the beauty of speaking up for yourself and being true to yourself.
As someone who battles mental illness daily (Anxiety, Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder), Carrie Fisher was a bastion who showed us that it was ok to "not be ok" and that it truly gets better. She battled Bipolar Disorder her entire life and she still showed that you can live with a mental illness and that you can be successful and productive.
She challenged gender norms. She fought the patriarchy and didn't take "No" for an answer. She had razor sharp wit and smarts that could defeat any argument. She beat drug addictions. She managed to live with her Bipolar Disorder and still became a world icon. She completely redefined the word "princess".
Thank you, Carrie Fisher. Thank you for inspiring the millions of little girls and boys who looked up to you. Thank you for speaking your mind. Thank you for fighting the good fight. May the Force be with you.