Once after playing the ‘if you were a Harry Potter character who would you be’ game with a group of friends I spent half an hour consoling a sobbing friend. She was devastated that we all said she’d be Ron – she did not want to be the sidekick.
This baffled me, as I find the sidekicks to be more balanced than the main character in any story. Main characters undergo so much trauma that they end up living in Crazyville. The sidekicks certainly sustain their own level of damage but tend to retain a level of sanity that main characters lack. Plus, they are usually loyal and often more intelligent than the central figure.
And that word – central – is well, central to the issue. Sidekicks do not exist in real life. We are the stars of our own story.
In fact, Harry Potter could have been titled ‘Hermione Granger’ and been about the muggle girl who helped defeat the Dark Lord while facing racism from her peers. Likewise, we could have read the story of Ron Weasley – the who nobody believed in but without whom evil would have triumphed. And any reader of Harry Potter knows that the story could have easily been titled ‘Neville Longbottom.’
The main issue here is self-identification through someone else. If you view yourself as a sidekick the issue is not so much the reality of your life as it is the way in which you view your life and yourself. These kinds of things are all about perspective and self-respect.
If you view yourself as someone’s sidekick then you are tying your identity to another person. We should never base our existence on someone else’s life. It is also dehumanizing them in a way you might not realize. You’ve made them a character, they aren’t a whole person anymore. They’ve become the sun around which you move. You’re putting them on a pedestal, that they are certain to fall from. Hero-worship of our friends is never a good thing.
And if you are the kind of person who views your friends as accessories then you aren’t much of a friend. They are whole people who continue to exist when you aren’t in the room.
Plus, I don’t view life as a singular thing. We are all connected. There’s no such thing as ‘my life’ and ‘your life.’ We contribute to each other and the world every moment. We have our own impact. The universe/god/the flying spaghetti monster doesn’t classify individuals into heroes and sidekicks. That kind of classification is strictly a convenience for story-telling. We should not bring it into our views of ourselves or others in our lives.
Maybe your life isn’t ‘exciting’ but we can never know the impact we make on other people. Even the smallest kindness can change the world.
So if you find yourself being compared to the proverbial sidekick don’t be insulted. Instead, focus on the qualities of that persona. It’s likely that your friends are honoring you with that comparison and remember that we are the tellers of our own stories, the travellers of our own journeys and the stars of our own lives.
If you are wondering, I was neither a main character or a sidekick. My friends said I’d be Dumbledore’s crazy sister that gets locked in a dungeon her entire life. I’d rather be Ron than the ‘too-dangerous-to-let-outside-girl,’ but apparently ‘AT LEAST THAT’S INTERESTING!’
This poor girl fell victim to the illusion that pain and drama are glamorous. And exploring that issue is for another post, entirely.