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Being The Main Character: Finding Balance In An Unbalanced World

Being the Main Character

We are all the main characters of our lives, there’s no doubt in that. Even when we do not feel like it, or when it seems like the universe is literally going against us, we are still the center of our own life. I mean, it is basic science. Literally, I live in my body. Me. Not anyone else. Whether I like it or not, I am the main character of my story. So, why do we sometimes feel like the best friend, standing on the side-lines?

The Main Character

Every well respected movie, book, or any kind of story for that matter, has a main character. This person is usually portrayed as the hero, someone who needs to overcome some kind of challenge. Someone who is loyal and brave and has a long list of positive personality traits. However, heroic perfection has started to become a little antiquated. Simply, it’s too hard to relate to a character that is so unrealistic; it makes us feel like we could never be the hero. 

The Best Friend

Another important character in a story is the best friend or the helper – however you would like to call the person who stands by the side of the main character and helps them exactly in the way they need to be helped. These side characters are usually liked by others since they seem to always know what to say or do. But they are not the main character, and they could never be. Mostly because the story that is being told is not their own, but someone else’s. 

I am the main character of my life, certainly, but I am also the best friend. Many times I have found myself on the sidelines of a great love story happening to a friend of mine. I have seen people that are close to me get married, land the job of their dreams or buy a new house. Those are main character decisions that I was witnessing from close by, but they were not my decisions. I was the one giving the speech at the wedding, or suggesting a color to paint the bathroom walls. I was the person standing on the other side of the table, giving someone the job of their dreams. I have been the best friend, and also a simple Stranger Number Three in someone else’s movie. We are all many different characters in many different stories. 

To Sacrifice Or Not To Sacrifice?

Lately, it is becoming harder and harder to believe that we are the main characters in our lives. We are used to seeing protagonists like Harry Potter, who are heroic and brave, or heroines like Katniss Everdeen, fighting in the Hunger Games arena. We know that these characters have a strength that we don’t have. They are almost inhuman, ready to sacrifice themselves for the ones they love: Harry was ready to die in the Forbidden Forest to save everyone else and Katniss was ready to eat those poisonous fruits in the arena. Certainly, they lived in worlds that are not real and therefore they made choices that can not be relatable. But it’s not always easy to not let such powerful stories influence us.

We have been shown for decades that, in order to be a main character, we must put others’ well-being before our own. 

Thankfully, antiheroes have entered the scene recently, showing that even the most selfish characters have some kind of humanity in them. Maleficent showed us that sometimes, it’s all about perspective, and when we change our point of view we understand that nobody is born a villain, but circumstances bring people closer to the dark side. It can be somewhat easier to recognize ourselves in these antiheroes because they do not have this aura of perfection around them. They have flaws, just like we do. And yet, at the end of the movie, Maleficent also shows that she is good by risking her life to save her daughter. It almost seems like the willingness to sacrifice themselves is what makes a character a true hero. 

The Perfect Balance of Me and You

These portrayals of characters in movies influence society a lot: they make us believe we can be worthy when we give up something, if we put others before us. History proves that the theory of giving up is supported. Catholicism might have had a certain influence on that – think of St. Francis for example, giving others everything he had to live a poor life. In order to be considered a good person you had to be charitable and ready to help those in need, even when that meant giving up something important to you. 

Now, there is not really a doubt that helping others is important and honorable, but it shouldn’t be given the meaning it has. Times are changing, and society is slowly encouraging us to take care of ourselves more. We should now think first about our well-being and our mental health before we think of others. The shift has happened so rapidly and drastically that sometimes we still struggle to find a good in-between. Of course we should take care of ourselves and be the main characters that we are. But we should not be so egocentric that we forget completely to take others into consideration.

We should definitely focus on growing and getting better, but we should also remember that sometimes growing comes from helping others and showing them the way.

And yet, there is no reason to feel less of a main character if you decide to take some time for yourself: to get to know you, what you like and what you want to achieve. Spending some time alone could be exactly what you need to move forward and be of more help to others. The two concepts are closely connected and should be balanced as best as we can. A true hero is the one who can find the right equilibrium. 


Cover: Etienne Girardet

Edited by: Laurent Hebette

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