How To Be The Protagonist

How To Be The Protagonist


A friend of mine observed that the person in her family who was craziest was the only one who wasn’t in therapy.

This is ironic but also not surprising. For therapy to have any effect, the patient (or client) has to recognize that there’s something wrong. As the old joke says, it only takes one therapist but the lightbulb has to want to change.

I can testify that my ability to change is proportional to my willingness to change which is related to my recognition that there is something that needs to change.

Changing is hard and takes time so you have to be motivated to start and stay on the journey. Along the way you will face challenges and difficulties and you will learn lessons. it will be exciting and, maybe, interesting to watch.

Like a movie.

In the survey class I teach on film and American culture (called Introduction to Film and American Culture) I give my students some simplified definitions of narrative devices because the course focuses on Hollywood movies which (I argue) are basic narratives that decades of economic evolution and corporate rock tumbling have worn smooth.. The protagonist, say I, is the main character in a movie who either changes, changes their world or (most often) both.

The antagonist is the character who causes the protagonist to change, often (but not always) by opposing the protagonist. The antagonist is often resistant to change.

So when you are ready to change, you are ready to be the protagonist. If you resist change, you are the antagonist.

Narratives are about change. A story in which nothing changes is usually very boring (unless the prose is fantastic, for example Rememberance of Things Past or Waiting For Godot) and not really a story. This is one of the reasons that Hollywood is typically progressive rather than conservative. Generally speaking, conservatives don’t want things to change. Stories are all about revolution and evolution and taking on the powers that be and making the world a better, fairer place.

So if you want to be the protagonist of your own life you have to willing to recognize where you need to change and than to be willing to do what it takes to make that change. Hopefully you’ll be in a story with a happy ending and you’ll have good stunt doubles to take most of the worst punches.

If you got something out of this, please share with your friends!

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