Many of us have grown up reading fiction novels, reading about brave main characters who had the tools necessary to vanquish their enemies. I cannot speak for all the readers out there, I know many people, including myself, who wanted to be like these main characters: to take up arms and vanquish the army of your arch nemesis, to find out you are the leader of a lost empire, to partake in a whirlwind romance. With the lives that they live, it is no surprise that many crave those same lives. It is no surprise that many individuals truly want to be the ‘main character.’ Nowadays, it seems this mindset has spread with more people wanting to be the ‘main character’ in their lives. The concept behind it seems wonderful: we are the core of our narratives. But, as with many things, there are some things we should be wary of.
Indeed, being the main character in your own life adds a special sheen to even the most mundane parts of our routine. Getting groceries becomes remarkably more interesting when you have an upbeat soundtrack laid over it. In the age of COVID-19, this ability to enhance the mundane is especially helpful since doing things commonly deemed ‘fun’ now usually puts one at risk.
Believing yourself the main character often also embellishes people with confidence, feeling of worthiness and even sometimes a sense of purpose. Writer Jillian Colte describes how aiming to become the main character can push to ask important questions: am I living life to the fullest? Am I satisfied with life as it is? And with the answers often lying in the small things in life — watching the sun set, dancing in the rain, etc. — living like a main character is often very attainable. Being a main character and all its benefits have an ability to improve the mindset of people and push back against some of the pressures, often social media related, that made people feel like ‘not enough’ or ‘not important.’ Something that is even more beneficial as depression and anxiety in our generation becomes more widespread with one in four teens experiencing symptoms of depression and one in three teens developing anxiety disorders. The problem arrives when one pushes things too far.
Though we have the power to take control of our own lives that does not give us permission to write over the narratives of others. We can be the main characters of our own lives without forcing those around us to take a minor role with the use of intersubjective sensibility. Keeping in mind that all individuals have their own lives and extending to the concept at hand, that all individuals are the main characters of their own lives prevents us from exacerbating our selfish tendencies, tendencies that can cause larger problems.
Moreover, it is also important to remember that we will still face obstacles and we must deliberate on how to overcome them. Unfortunately, things may not always work out perfectly but we still have power over that outcome. We may not get an A on every test but we can give it our all, we can work hard and do well.
Something I also experienced myself was the feeling that to be the main character, my life had to mirror the lives of the most famous fictional characters. Like Cinderella, I had to have mean step sisters or like Harry Potter, I had to have a mean aunt and uncle. But this I have found to be untrue. Not just because the world of literature is full of main characters who live lives like mine but also because every story is different. There is no checklist or steps to becoming the main character in your own life; it is simply a shift in one’s mindset.
For many of us, music does not play as we cross the street. We do not wrangle dragons or wave wands. But we can still be in charge of our own lives. And despite some of the warnings of ‘Main Character Syndrome’ the core concept is exciting: we are the main characters of our own life. It is a mindset that shows us our own importance. It is a mindset that shows us that we have control over our own destinies.