I’m not the kind of person who gets in trouble. I’ve never been grounded or given detention. I’ve never even been pulled over.
But when I found myself in a meeting with my boss recently, I could tell I was in trouble.
I knew my job was a bad fit after the first week, but I was grateful for a position in my field, and if there’s anything I’ve learned from being a Cubs fan, it’s how to maintain a positive attitude when all you want to do is curl up and cry.
But over time, the bad fit started to feel worse and I wasn’t just letting my positive attitude fade, I was actively beating it to death. I likened myself to some misunderstood heroine fighting her way through an strange and threatening place. Even when my discontent started to affect my personal life, I found that it was easier to surrender myself to misery than to try and address the bigger issues at hand.
When my boss first called me into her office, I felt a strange exhilaration. Internally, I dared her to fire me because it would reinforce the story I had created in my head; it would add more fuel to my fire and protect me against facing the reality that maybe I was just being a brat.
But I wasn’t met with anger. There was no yelling, berating or accusations. There was only genuine concern when she asked me, “Is everything okay?”
And just like that, the tragic story I had written in my head fell apart. My boss wasn’t some unreasonable, out-of-touch dictator, like the archetype on a sitcom. She wasn’t a static character whose sole purpose was to make the audience sympathize with me. I realized instead that she cared about my well-being in a very human and empathetic way.
I came to understand that as the poorly-cast protagonist of this story, I forced everyone around me into supporting roles; I latched onto anything that reinforced my feelings and conveniently discarded the rest.
I was playing the biggest and most important role in my own story but refused to be anything but a small actor in instigating the direction of my story.
We’re taught from a young age that we have the inherent right to be whoever we want to be, so it’s only natural that we consider ourselves the main characters of our respective lives. But to what extent do we let this notion motivate us before we use it to justify selfishness and detachment, all to obtain something we think we are entitled to?
Feeling lonely, scared, and unsure is part of the human experience, but we continue to assume that we are alone in these struggles. I now know I don’t want to be a protagonist. I’d rather be a supporting character if it means being more understanding, empathetic, and just plain happier.
After all, there are no small roles in life, only small actors that have the ability to inspire great change, both in their own lives and in the lives of others.
- Lessons From A Queen - September 4, 2017
- Not That Type of Girl - July 31, 2017
- The Importance of Being a Small Actor in Your Own Life - July 7, 2017