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Over the summer, I was introduced to a concept that I have never heard of. Now it’s a new year, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Let me ask you something - can you confidently say that you are the ‘main character’ in your own life? Allow me to rephrase this. If your life was a novel, would you be the protagonist? Would someone pick up the novel of [insert your name here] from Barnes & Noble and mostly care about what you do in the plot? Or would the reader find themselves more emotionally attached to your best friend or your mom?

By now you’re probably wondering, “What is this whole ‘main character’ thing she’s talking about in the first place?” This brings me to the Tik Tok wormhole. Oh Tik Tok, how you test me so. If you’ve also found yourself on Tik Tok multiple hours of the day due to quarantine boredom, you might’ve seen ones using that trippy audio where this girl with a chic voice tells you that “you have to start fantasizing your own life” and “you have to start thinking of yourself as the main character.” Here’s one for example. 

The particular one I saw was a video of this girl walking around the Upper East Side of New York City, posing in the park and filming her most exquisite looking latte. She had on this really cute outfit and was most likely listening to something cool and artsy through her AirPods. Now mind you, I watched this on the toilet at 2 am, just a month after having to move out of my East Village apartment and back into my parents' house due to the pandemic. As I watched this total stranger live out what seemed to be the perfect day, I couldn’t control the melancholy feeling that took over me. Let’s just say at that moment, she was the main character, and I was not. 

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Since then, I’ve seen countless videos using that audio and they haunt me each time. Since the dreaded March of 2020, I have not been feeling like the ‘main character’ these influencer-types have been telling me to be. If anything and I’m sure others out there feel the same way, I’ve felt like a wart on the bottom of 2020’s foot. Despite the New Year, I still don’t know if I’d even call myself the secondary character.  From what it looked like, in order to be the ‘main character’ you have to have it all. You have to go travel the world, find true love, have some kind of amazing skincare routine and know-how to glamorously rollerskate to Fleetwood Mac. You have to have something exciting going on all the time and live a life others would be jealous of. 

But personally, due to the dystopian reality, 2020 threw us into I have felt nowhere near ‘main character’ material for a myriad of reasons that I’m sure many of you can relate to. I found myself constantly envious of my friends, the ones who got to return to their college campuses, live independently, and have fun. I had my heart broken by a guy, which left me feeling more unattractive and unremarkable than ever. What 20-year-old person should be feeling this way? Not a single one, I'll tell you. This is a realization I should’ve made a couple of months ago when I saw that first ‘main character’ Tik Tok.

I am a mess - YES! So many of us feel like our lives are lowkey in shambles! We all had big hopes and dreams for where we’d be at the start of 2021 before all of this even began, and now we’re faced with having to cope with massive lifestyle changes.  It may be messy, but we are still the main characters of our own story. Being the main character does not mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars on the cutest clothes, take all your photos on a film camera, or live in an expensive apartment. Being the main character does not mean you have to have your life perfectly together. 

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 What makes stories interesting? Conflict. Turmoil. The story gets interesting when something goes wrong - we can all admit that. Most of us have taken a basic literature class at some point. If things just kept getting better and better and if life was always like the way things were for that girl in that one Tik Tok, holy crap our stories would be so boring. In order to feel like the ‘main character,’ we have to do more things for ourselves. Unfortunately, there’s no narrator to just automatically make choices for us. So as our own main character, we have to decide what makes us feel like we’re living in a novel or a movie. 

As I started writing this article, I was sitting in Central Park. I had a gorgeous view of skyscrapers as I sat on a rock and listened to music. I brought myself there safely on the train in the middle of the day because I knew it would make me happy. That is some main character material. At that moment, simply sitting in the park. I was happy and that’s what mattered. What my friends were doing, or what that guy was thinking of me did not matter. If you’re trying to do something for yourself, to feel more like the main character, and all you can do is think about other people, maybe do something else. **

I think what that beautiful Tik Tok girl was trying to do was not piss us off, or make us envy her, but to tell us to think about ourselves for once. Okay maybe she wanted to make us a bit jealous, but there is a message about true self-care hidden in there. 

Here are some things that I consider to be main character material: laughing with your friends, listening to your favorite album, eating your favorite food, snuggling with your pet, starting a new project, doing your favorite workout - the list goes on, and it’s a list of things you could do safely with ease. Even if you didn’t feel anything like the ‘main character’ in 2020, like me, we should still give 2021 a shot. Just remember there’s no way to do this “right.” Life is not meant to be easy and it’s really hard right now. If things are not going at all as you planned, just remember that you are not worthless and that you are still the main character in this scenario. With all the things 2020 has thrown at us, we are lucky to be alive, we are lucky to still be standing. The challenges we face and all the roads we have to go down just end up making our story more interesting. 

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**whatever you do, remember to wear a mask! Main characters wear masks in a pandemic. xo

 

 

Abby is a student at the New School double majoring in Theater + Journalism & Design. Abby was born and raised in New Jersey but also has some New Orleans roots and is currently loving being a New Yorker. When she isn't writing or performing, you can catch Abby snuggling with her dogs Otis & Thibodaux, or hanging out with her friends!
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