Journal

Being the Protagonist

Writing often bleeds into living, and the lessons go both ways. Just thinking about things I wish I knew when I was younger, but that I understand now.

When I was a kid and then a teen, I used to wish that amazing, wonderful things would just happen to me. I kept waiting and waiting, and wound up disappointed. Why did no portals ever opened in my closets? Why couldn’t I talk to animals? Where was the white knight or fairy godmother to rescue me from the drudgery? (I didn’t like being a teenager)

But one thing that gets repeated often in fiction is the need for ‘agency’. The protagonist has to be the one making things happen around them, rather than purely reacting to them. It’s the protagonist’s foibles should drive the plot for better or for worse, and that’s how they grow as characters.

What I wish I knew when I was younger: you need to act like the protagonist of your life, because it’s the only one you’ve got.

When you’re young it feels hard to be in control, because so often you’re not. But as adults, we have the chance to shape our lives the way we want.

Still, sometimes I still feel like I’m waiting. Sometimes it feels like a positive thing, an open thing, because amazing things are still possible. Other times, I’m just restless.

But this is my story, it’s my life. I better make it a good one. And I want to keep hearing about yours too.

4 Comments

  1. So true! When I was a depressed, moody teenager/young adult, my father would try to encourage me by comparing my life to a video game (because I was always playing video games) and say how I was the Jedi and only I could go out into the world and “conquer the dark side.”

    It didn’t work, lol, but looking back I know he meant well. If only we could see these lessons when we were younger and appreciate them!

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