One of the first roles I learned to play was that of the sidekick. Maybe it was natural, being a little sister, but I quickly adapted it to other situations. I always had a best friend and to me they were always the star, and I was their wacky accomplice.
I think we’re always looking for stories that we can find ourselves in, and if you can’t find the stories you make them up. I don’t remember a time where I wasn’t writing stories or poems, wandering around with a notebook or a journal, pens tucked behind my ears. I’d create these elaborate mythologies with me and my friends as characters but I never made myself the main character. The earliest one I can remember I cast myself as Granny, age 94. (I was nine.) This happened over and over again — main character, secret princess on a fated journey to defeat evil; me, grubby magicky tomboy scene-stealer. Me, side character who falls in love with another side character (who happens to be a robot).
You can argue that plenty of myself got into the main characters, but my point is I never consciously or explicitly identified with them.
One day I realized I could be the hero of my own stories — and, if I treated my life like a text, I could be the hero of my own life, and I could decide what my quest could be. The problem with this is you no longer have the safety of the margins, the safety of dependence. There’s a whole bunch of unknown in front of you and you’re the only one who can write your way through it. You’re probably going to fail sometimes, and fail publicly. That’s part of the quest.
I say all this as if I’ve solved anything which I haven’t. I am insecure about my work and terrified of not being good enough and afraid of being a human being with faults and imperfect mental health and questionable hair and maybe this is going to be a solitary journey forever and maybe I am making all the mistakes and what if what if what if. Maybe.
I don’t know. If I believe in anything, I believe that the more conscious you are, the more interesting things can get. At least I got that going for me, which is nice.