Why I Want to Be a Mermaid



Everyone has wanted to be a mermaid. One girl never gave up her dream. Okay, she may still not BE a mermaid, but…

When I was about six years old, I enscribed a list of things I wanted to do with my life. I know, what sort of kid does that, right? Answer: An incredibly productive one!

The stand-out wish on this list, the only one I still remember – the only really IMPORTANT one – was to be a mermaid.

As a tiny two-legged landfish I watched The Little Mermaid and thought “That’s it! That’s what I want! To be a mermaid princess, to have a fish for a best friend and collect all sorts of weird and wonderful treasure…”

I couldn’t for the life of me fathom (fathom! Ha!) why The Little Mermaid wanted to be a boring human being and marry a prince. That was just so deplorably ordinary. I was going to become the mermaid Ariel had desperately sought to avoid being.

My Mermaid Checklist

To be a mermaid, I had to master one or two things:

1) To be a great swimmer.

2) To breathe underwater.

3) I would worry about the tail later.

In the local pool I got so good at holding my breath that my lungs burned and my head span from lack of oxygen. Why couldn’t I be like Ocean Girl? She could breathe underwater, she was almost exactly like a human and she didn’t even have a tail, the cheating minx! I also wanted a humpback whale for a best friend (noticing a trend here?) and to live on a tropical island off the coast of Australia. Yes, Australia.

Oh, mum, I would say. Just drop me off on an island and let me live my dream. I’ll be fine.

No-one can say I didn’t try. Wannabe mermaids should note that a holiday may be the closest you can get; The British Isles are too chilly for all mermaids (save seal-girl selkies), but the Mediterranean and the Pacific – what wonderful warm seas they have! I spent hours snorkelling in search of a mermaid to find me a la Daryl Hannah in Splash and grant me my magical mermaidy wish. I snorkelled quite extensively, in fact. Scuba diving in Turkey, I yearned to to go this deep and see these wonderful sights minus the wetsuit and heavy tank. Snorkelling and scuba diving would, I thought, be the answer. Just a little more of both, and I would be a mermaid soon enough.

Helen Dunmore‘s magical mermaid trilogy, The Ingo Chronicles (Ingo, The Tide Knot and The Deep) made the dream more accessible than ever, with her tales mermaids off the cost of Cornwall. I yearned to drive to the South West coast, dive into the freezing ocean and meet Sapphire and her mer friends. It was tantalisingly close, yet still so far.

As I got older, the desire didn’t wane. I began exploring magick and mythology, and realised there were other people out there who believed. Okay, so maybe they didn’t want to be a mermaid, but they believed! I felt reassured by the fact I wasn’t the only one to still love mermaids as an adult.

I always wondered why though. Why mermaids? What was it about them that touched me so deeply?

Why I Want to be a Mermaid. And Why Mermaids Don’t.

To think rationally, spending an eternity alone in a cold ocean doesn’t appeal to most people. In all the movies and books it’s this loneliness that drives the mermaid to find her prince. For me, this aspect has always been intoxicating – the freedom of the ocean, to go where I please. I’ve always been naturally introverted, and slightly in love with my own company, so being a mermaid would fit in wonderfully with my personality. It wasn’t just that, though; it was the thought of being a beautiful creature, with long wild braided hair, worshipped for her beauty and grace. And Magic! Let’s not forget the fact I would be a magical mythical creature; what’s not to love about that?

Though I might be stuck with these legs forever, eternally longing for them to turn into a tail, I still dream of meeting a mermaid in the ocean and having her grant me my one wish.

A girl can dream.