You’ve probably heard the adage that we’re all the protagonist in our own story. As writers, we appreciate writing metaphors, of course. We are the main character in the book of our life, and that can be rather comforting, or downright frightening, depending on how you look at it. We each have our own ideas about who is writing the book, and sometimes we wish they’d stop torturing us, or wonder why they’re being so kind to us. Some of us feel we are the author of our own book, and we create our own plot. But something we also should remember is that everyone has their own book, not just us.
The thing about being the protagonist of a story is that everything happens to you. You also have to go through a lot of struggles to reach your goal. A story isn’t interesting if the main character doesn’t have obstacles thrown in their way and doesn’t have to fight for what they want. We like to see the protagonist overcome–we hope for ourselves that we can overcome, as well.
Life is exactly like a story in that sense. Many things get dropped in our path and trip us up. Just like in a story, we also have advantages and disadvantages. We might have more than another person in one area, and be happy and content, but be fighting and failing in another area and striving toward something we don’t have. Life throws us plenty of plot twists: illnesses, disaster, death, heartbreak, loss, bills we can’t pay, people who hurt us, and a million other things.
The story of life is exhausting!
That’s why I also try to appreciate that I play a role in the stories of other people. I am a supporting and minor character in other people’s books, and that can be very fulfilling. We can learn, enjoy, and witness so much in the stories of others. It’s a chance to take a breath, but still be part of the great overreaching arc of a sweeping tale.
For example, I have several musician friends. I have no musical talent whatsoever and would never be part of the music world if I wasn’t a supporting character in these people’s books. Through them, I get to sit in front rows, hang out backstage, and observe musicians in their creative environment. Likewise, I know a couple filmmakers and actually got to play an assistant and extra on one of their productions–something I wouldn’t have sought out on my own, but since I was a bit character in their stories, I got to experience it.
Of course, we may find ourselves involved in the grief, hardship, and struggle of other people’s books too, but that also gives a chance to learn, grow, and find new strength for our own journey. We’re all connected. We all play parts in each other’s tales and learn from one another.
What stories are you playing a supporting character in? How does it help you on your own quest?