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  • Writer's pictureSarah Mason

Protagonist in the Sunshine

One of my fears is to live my life without having actually lived my life. Recently, I have felt that I am living out this fear through my compliancy in appeasing others rather than pursuing what will bring me joy.

It’s gotten to the point where I feel like I have become a subsidiary character in my own life. I am no heroine in my own life story; I’m not the protagonist. I don’t even know if I am a character with backstory. Am I even a character with a last name? Will the designated protagonists even remember my first name? Am I merely a flat character serving the purpose of driving someone else’s story forward?

That’s not the life I want. That’s not the life I deserve. I was not born to be a tertiary character in my own life. I’m just now realizing that I have allowed myself to become just that: a minor character in my own story. Yet, I have learned my own value. I see it in me now. I just haven’t learned to demand respect from others. I keep hoping they will see it if I am hardworking enough, if I am helpful enough, if I am kind and patient enough. It doesn’t happen. I just keep waiting, and I am so done waiting. I refuse to continue to prioritize those who take my value for granted.

Nevertheless, I will always be kind. It’s not in my nature to intentionally be unkind, to intentionally be rude or cruel. Even though some keep mistaking my kindness for weakness, I will not be less than myself. I will not retaliate with hate. I will not rise up as some wounded victim who seeks vengeance for the abuses she has endured. I was raised to be better than that. I was raised to be more than that. I was raised to know that I can be both kind and strong.

I was raised to be my own person, to be independent. My father once told me that he wanted his daughters to be self-sustaining, strong women. He never wanted us to be trapped, to feel that we can’t leave a relationship. He wanted to ensure that I was empowered and had the ability to support myself. I always related that to being in a romantic relationship, but it’s really a truth for all of my relationships.

No man, no person, will ever trap me in a relationship. I am not in friendships because no one else will be my friend. I am not in a job because I have no other options. I will never have a boyfriend simply because I need one. I am in relationships out of choice. And yes, the perks of relationships are wonderful, but I am not a desperate, needy soul. I don’t choose anyone out of need. I choose them out of want, because of the values and character of their soul, not out of the benefits of what I’m offered. And I am never trapped.

Recently, I was told I would have no better offers, that I was lucky to be wanted at all. I was told this when I demanded to be valued at the level I was offering this relationship. I was told my worth wasn’t what I saw my worth to be. I’ve had people tell me this before. I am a grateful person, but I refuse to be told to be grateful for being able to stand in someone else’s shadow. Instead, I will walk away and find myself a little sunlight.

Don’t worry about me either. My father- and my mother- raised me well. I won’t just survive when I leave, I will thrive. I can stand in the glorious sunshine alone. I can turn up my chin and let the warmth radiate on my cheeks all by myself. I can let my arms raise up with my fingers spread wide and be full of joy. I can dance all by myself under the sunbeams. And if, if, someone wants to stand in the sun next to me, if someone wants to share the light with me, that is a relationship I will welcome. But I will always choose to stand in the sun by myself rather than choose to stand in anyone’s shadow, no matter how wonderful that anyone is or thinks they are.

I am my own main character; I am my own heroine. How silly of me to forget that. How silly of me to not recognize the expanse of my father’s lesson. I am not trapped. I will never be trapped. I may be a mess; I may be healing. But I also made a promise when my life unraveled a year ago. When my sister died and I fell apart, even in my pieces, I made a promise to live my best life. I promised to carry her with me, not to forget her on my adventures, and not to bore her along the way. Let’s be real, life is the adventure, and this chapter of me being the tertiary character would make my sister toss the book and turn on Netflix. So I’m no longer waiting.

So with my promise to my sister, the lesson from my father, and my own stubbornness, I’m going to live in the sunshine as the heroine of my own story. I’m going to to live my best life for the people I love and, most importantly, for myself.

In the words of my favorite independent heroine, Jane Eyre, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.”


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