“I don’t feel like I’m the ‘main character’ in my life.”
I was having a conversation with a friend over some delicious pizza, and we were chatting about how we sometimes don’t perceive ourselves as the impactful or wonderful people that we actually are. Then we turned the conversation to ‘main character energy’ and that’s when I said the above quote.
‘Main character energy’ was a term hitting social media platforms last year, and it carried on to this year. Main character energy can be defined as many different concepts, such as:
- Investing and advocating for yourself.
- Doing things that make you happy.
- Taking control of your life, and focusing more on yourself.
- Putting your wants, desires and needs first - making you the “main character” of your life.
- Living your best life, and exuding confidence while doing it.
The novelist in me likes to describe main character energy as the development of a character when they develop and hone unique qualities, traits and motivations that define that character, and gives them that driving force to move the story forward.
To sum all of it up, main character energy is viewing yourself as an integral part in this world, and acting on that view by taking control of your life, and treating yourself in the way that you want to be treated.
Chatting with my friend made me realize that I don’t see myself as the main character - I hardly ever do. Not only that, at times when I would let myself have the chance to embody that ‘main character energy’, I would feel like I’m being selfish, or undeserving of it.
There are many reasons why I feel this way, but I want to spotlight my hearing loss as one reason. Before I dig into that, let’s talk about representation. I think that subconsciously, as children, and even as adults, we tend to observe our environments, and make comparisons. We find comfort when we see something similar outside of ourselves - almost like a sense of validation that ‘this is someone that is like me. I’m not an outlier anymore’.
We search for that validation everywhere, in our own family, at school, with our friends, in books, in movies, in pictures and the list goes on. Growing up, and even now…people with disabilities are hardly ever the main character in mainstream media. There is definitely more representation now than ever before, but it’s usually a glimpse, or it’s a character in passing, or they are a side character, but never the main character.
This lack of representation doesn’t stop at disabilities, it also applies to race, gender, sexual orientation etc. These ‘minorities’ are hardly ever seen as the main character. When folks from that minority see that subliminal messaging repeated over and over again - there’s a chance that they might look at it, and unconsciously see themselves as just another character in someone’s story, but never the main character in their own.
It doesn’t help when the lack of accessibility and inclusivity in certain aspects of life can serve as a reminder that accessibility is sometimes an afterthought.
My hearing loss is one reason why I never viewed myself as the main character. I’ve always put the needs of others before my own - because it felt like I needed to overcompensate for this ‘gap’ or missing part of myself.
After that conversation with that friend, I had to ask myself, “how can I make myself the main character in my own story?” The answer was surprisingly simple - do what I want, state what I want and make sure I do things that match my own needs. It might sound selfish at first - and that’s something I still struggle with, but at the end of the day, if you don’t fill your cup first…how do you expect to show up for others as your best self?