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Main character

In every story, there is a main character. In every good fiction novel, a protagonist that steers the storyline. Every story is a snippet into a journey that could span generations many times over.

I was talking to my son one morning and he referred to the way I had just walked through the kitchen saying" walked like you had swag." If you know me, you will know I am not necessarily the "swagger-licious" type (not that there is even such a word but hopefully you understand my point!)

I always like to interrogate when my son uses words that are not a regular part of our vocabulary or words that might be new to his vocabulary. This wasn't one we had used much before so I asked my soon to be 10 year old, what he meant by "swag". He responded. "Its when you walk as if you are the main character in your story."

An interesting choice of words yet so apt. These were his exacts words. And it is those words that have inspired this blog.

We went on to talk about what it means to be a main character, we explored some of the Disney characters like Moana, Merida in Brave, Pinocchio and some others. More importantly the impression several main characters had left on us from the movies we have watched over the years. We also spoke about other people who form part of our story. He questioned me about who he was in my story. I responded by saying "a very important character, not the main character but still very significant". Even in saying that I think we make a choice about whether we want to be the main character in our story or not, we make a choice about whether we want to make someone else the main character and down play our role and essentially our purpose in our own story.

Why is the main character or leading character/role so important in any movie or a story?

Lets pick on the word character for a moment.

Character is defined as "the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual".

You, are the main character in your story and you have mental and moral qualities that distinguish you from everybody else. This makes your story unique and depicts the journey that you are on. We each have a story. Yet in saying all this, there is acknowledgement that none of these stories are isolated, they are all connected.

The qualities and actions of the main character are super important - if none of these exist there will not be a story, they will be nothing to write about, there will be no defining cause or effect, there would be nothing much to tell of when they are gone.

If you consider yourself the main character of your story, here are a few questions you need to answer

  • Do you have a problem to solve - In the movie Brave, the main character, Merida, had a problem. She found herself in the clutches of her meddling mother, who was insisting on her marriage in accordance to the traditions of the land. In a nutshell, it didn't give Merida room to choose for herself. She felt trapped.

  • Do you have ability to act - Merida chose to defy the marriage traditions by claiming the right as the first born of her family to ask for her own hand in marriage in an archery contest. A ridiculous notion of course, but one that stamped her in the leading role as the chain of events revolved around her character maturing through extenuating circumstances she could not have envisaged. You see, archery as a sport was actually one of Merida's strengths and from that moment we know she had a defiant nature, one that always seemed to oppose the grain. A polite way of describing this quality would be "a questioning nature" similar to Peter in the bible?

  • Do you have motive - Merida had motive. She wanted her freedom. At the end of the day that is the bottom-line motivating all of us. Freedom.

  • Do you have something to lose - By agreeing to her mother's wishes she was surrendering her own independence and ability to make choices for herself in the future.

  • Do you have something to gain - Not only was this an opportunity to gain more independence on her path but an opportunity to change the cause of history for future generations on the issue of marriage in their kingdom.

  • Do you have ability to change - There was huge potential for change for her even though it wasn't in the direction she had expected. There was a yielding both ways for her as the main character and for her mother as well. There will be circumstances we need to submit ourselves to in order to transform.

  • Do you have a unique, compelling quality about you. It could be just one thing, that is enough. Merida was a fierce redhaired female, courageous but there was much of the world she did not understand too which made her slightly naïve and hasty in some decisions she took which ended badly. These were the areas that needed change and maturity for real transformation to take place.

  • Do you have any interesting weakness - I believe one of Merida's main weakness was her pride which she eventually had to let go of by focussing on her strength. Her strength was the love of her family. Defiant as she was when she realised she could lose her mother forever and all her family had represented for ages in the community, it set her on a path to "mend the bond" that had been broken.

  • Do you have any secrets - Her secret was the spell she bought from a witch to change her mother's mind about her nuptials. The spell wasn't a secret hidden for very long because her mother found out and all her sins were laid bare yet it became clear to Merida that her mother's love remained despite the horrible thing she had done.

  • Do you have anyone or thing trying to stop you - Merida's mother was the biggest obstacle to her freedom and the carefree lifestyle she had initially sought to live. At the same time, Merida's mother presented a pathway to a transformed life. If you have agreed to be the main character in your story, expect opposition. The opposition helps to test, challenge and make you into more on your unique journey. It can try to stop you but if you don't give up all it ends up doing is transforming you into a better version of yourself.

As the main character in your story identify the problem you are here to solve (or in any particular given space), assess your ability to solve it. These two usually work in tandem, there is no way your ability does not match the problem, whatever it takes to solve the problem is within you already and you just need to figure it out. Sometimes, it may be as simple as identifying others around you who can help. Your ability to communicate and negotiate support is power within you.

As the main character, you should have motive that drives you and you will have something to lose and or gain, weigh these against each other. Is the gain worth the loss? Have you challenged yourself sufficiently as the main character in your story, have you assessed your ability to change and are you willing?

What is your most compelling quality - you know the one that might actually make you feel strange sometimes, like you are the only one with that trait, the odd one out. Yes, that one! Well, if you didn't know, this could actually be your super power. Contending with this trait or your super power is your weakness. Your weakness is the one thing which might have led you to do things you now wish to cover up but someone "knows what you did last summer". You might have made your personal or circumstantial weakness the obstacle and enabling it to stop you. What you should be doing, is working more collaboratively with others to support and encourage you and vice versa. Win win.

Like the branches on the vine we are all connected, our stories seamlessly intertwine with one another. Our stories and our journeys are one big vine.

There are many stories being told around the world and we can choose how prominent a part we want to play in them. We can choose whose story we want to be actively part of because we have the freedom to choose. More importantly, we must remember to stay true to who we are so that in our own story we remain a powerful engaging main character, the kind that makes the reader ponder deeply long after they are done reading.

The main character is honest, does not try to be someone else, they believe in what they carry and they own it.

It isn't our story if we aren't honest about it. It isn't our story if we are constantly trying to be someone else. It is not our story if we think what we carry isn't good enough. And this is because we need to own our story, own our presence and own our identity. We are saved by the power of our story.

Identity can be manifested in so many different facets of life and I believe we are more successful as we learn to appreciate the life giving aspects of these different facets and make all these parts work seamlessly as one. This is my definition of a successful life and an intriguing, empowering main character.

Success can be defined in our intentional progress toward wholeness. The closer together these different facets become and work with each other the more successful we are, the more whole we become.

I am mother, daughter, sister, finance professional, writer, podcaster.....and who knows what else the future holds. I am learning, that all these parts form my identity, and they may be separate yet the same person. The more deliberately they work together the more successful I am.

"The opportunity to discover can be an exciting one, more so when you are at the centre of that discovery process. " The Painted Flawless Manual, The Art of Intimacy

Are you walking like you are the main character in your story? If you aren't then maybe you have a few questions to answer and I hope this blog helps with that. The main character does not have to be loud, they do not even have be colourful but they must be doing things that steer their story to the point that others take notice, are influenced or impacted by it in a significant way.

"Arise and shine."

Be blessed!

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