The Main Character Trope: Self-Love or Narcissism?

If your lockdown has been anything like mine, then your phone screen time has increased an atrocious amount and has been spent a lot on social media apps like Twitter and TikTok. A trend that has risen and is extremely popular on social networking sites is the ‘main character’ trope or ‘main character energy’, in which the person making the video (the subject) displays their life as sort of a movie where they are the protagonist. On the surface level, this is used to empower people to realize that they are in control of their life and the possibilities are endless. However, when this trope begins to settle into the way you go about your day-to-day life or interact with your relationships, the empowerment and affirmation derived can become narcissism.

It’s not all about you.

One of my favourite lines is "it's your world, we're just living in it" because, at the end of the day, it is your world! The decisions you make for yourself should ideally be in your own best interest. However, internalizing the main character trope means that everybody else in your life is a side character. Typically, in movies and novels, the side characters are simply supporting characters who enable the protagonist. Although they are essentially the ‘main character’ in their own life, their narrative is hardly taken into consideration, and when it is, this usually results in a dispute of some sort. The narrative you’re trying to carry out and the narrative of those around you are at some point bound to conflict, so is it really worth potentially losing people in your life just because your ‘side characters’ aren’t aligning with what you want?

“You are exceptional, you are not the exception”

A quote that keeps me humble. The fact of the matter is that we all have great, personalized qualities. However, that does not warrant special treatment from other people. Mark Manson, the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, states that “it has become an accepted part of our culture today to believe that we are all destined to do something truly extraordinary. Celebrities say it. business tycoons say it. politicians say it. even Oprah says it.” (page 60). Everyone is special in their own way, but thinking the world revolves around you and your narrative will detract from a trope of self-love to one of entitlement and narcissism. At the end of the day the world doesn’t owe anyone anything, and no one is going to give you an easier time just because you think you’re special.

Real main character energy is realizing that other people are just as important as you are, even if you don’t understand them.


Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. HarperOne, 2016.