Most great stories have something in common: a relatable main character. And with the main character, the more characteristics we see of ourselves in them, the more invested we become in their story. Their journey becomes our own. Throughout their story, we become inspired, depressed, trapped, liberated–everything they experience–as our own experience. In our own lives, we might gain strength to proceed forward from whatever is holding us back. This is one of the reasons why flawed protagonists tend to be more interesting: because they need to overcome obstacles like us in order to succeed. In this sense, a great protagonist becomes a supporting character in our own life that encourages us to keep going. A good protagonist becomes a great supporting character when we learn from them, because we are the main character in our own lives. Perhaps one of the goals then, is to live in such a way that we inspire others by realizing ourselves.
The other day, I was waiting to checkout at the grocery store. Next to me, a short elderly lady wearing a golden plastic tiara (like the ones you get from party favor stores) was having trouble reading something on a movie box. She finally turned to me and asked, “Excuse me hun, but could you read this for me?”
“Yeah, no problem!” I sat my groceries down, grabbed the box and read: “Fifty Shades Of Grey.” She noticed the surprised look on my face and laughed.
She revealed that her daughter was into the Fifty Shades series, but she didn’t know much about it herself. Her eyes widened when I told her that I never watched any movies from the series myself:
“Oh gosh, there are more of these things?” Time seems to move quickly when having conversations in line because it was finally my turn to check out. I asked the cashier if she could help her find a box set for Fifty Shades. Turned out, the cashier Tina was a huge fan of the series herself. and even Googled a coupon for my new friend. It made me wonder: what causes someone to go above and beyond to help another person out? She didn’t have to “google” a coupon, nor have the conversation that followed after the initial exchange.
Perhaps it is the courage to ask, to initiate a conversation. In the simple process of asking, the little old lady created a moment for us three random strangers to connect and share a fun moment. Often times, we pass up potential moments of connection when we are hesitant to talk to someone new. But ultimately, most people welcome conversation about things that they happen to be interested in. There are plenty of reasons not talk to someone new. So that’s why I encourage you to find just one reason to talk to someone today. Talk to a few new people, and see where the conversation goes. Through conversation, we learn more about about ourselves, and connection makes the world a better place.