Live Your Life Like a Movie

Let’s take a moment and ponder over this: Imagine, your life is the plot of a movie, a long classic movie. Now my question to you is that, in the story of your life are you just a side character waiting to die off or be forgotten or are you the protagonist who overcomes difficulties, saves people, wins challenges and gets a happy ending? We often like to think that we are somebody and that someday something important will happen to us, but in the broader perspective, more often than not, we are just some nobodies living our monotonous, routine lives. Most of us ARE living without any direction, any passion, any goal; in short, a boring movie.

I recently finished a book where the main character has an epiphany when a movie director reaches out to him with a proposal to direct a movie based on his life. He suddenly acquires a perspective of his life in the third person and realises that his life is not movie-worthy at all. He was a nobody, an author who had sold just a few successful books and that was it. He did have a few interesting incidents in his life but such incidents happen to everyone, everybody screws up at least once which leads to a small story worthy to be recited over a house party. He scans his whole life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood and is unable to find instances that could become the main plot of the movie. He concludes that he has been living a meaningless story, the pages of his life are blank and that he needs to start writing a few words on it.

Are YOU any different?

Ask yourself, are you living a good story? A movie worthy story? As I had naively done myself, you too might remember instances from your past, and answer ‘YES’. Let’s take my case: I was always the ideal student, first-bencher, teacher’s favourite, class monitor, house captain etc. Most of my childhood was about studying and winning. After high school, I studied even harder to get into one of the top colleges, it was hard, countless hours of studying, burning the midnight oil, sacrificing all other pleasures of the teenage life. Ultimately I got in and so did thousands of other students. It used to feel like I had a good story. But soon, the real world dawned upon me. The college life was the usual college life, fun with friends, fun in lectures, group trips, stressing over exams to get a good CGPA, stressing over getting placed. Though I studied hard, couldn’t become a 9 pointer, was a big deal then, doesn’t matter much now. In the final year, got placed into a good company, but not one of those which I wanted to get into, but nevertheless one with a really good package. I felt ecstatic then, felt like I have accomplished a milestone. It felt like a good story worth telling then, but after a year at the job, I started feeling that I had grown stagnant and was no longer learning and that I needed to make a switch if I wanted to grow in my career. A few years and another switch later, I landed in a company which was one of the brands that I desperately wanted to get into during my college placements, and which had rejected me after one round. This time I felt that I had finally done it. I had made it to the top. I can tell the story to my juniors or my younger relatives about how I made it. But alas the ecstasy, the exhilaration, the pride, fizzled out soon enough and again within a few months, I realised that it’s not like what I had expected.

Now you may say, “Cmon, that’s just life! That’s how it happens, you expect something and you get something else”, and I’ll agree. So, the feeling of achievement we experienced after a win was just a sub-story. It didn’t end well for our character as we were unhappy with it after sometime. But they were not a waste, those sub-stories shaped our character, every success or failure pushed our character in a certain direction, they become bends in our story. And it’s our job to use those sub stories to create our own epic story.

So, what makes a good/epic story? In the book, they said that a good story is one where the character wants something and overcomes conflict to achieve it. If you think about it you’ll realise that it’s actually the case with quite a few of the most popular movie/book plots. Think of any good story, for example, Harry Potter: he lost his parents as a baby, lived with his horrible aunt and uncle, fought through villains and creatures to do something he wanted and then finally almost died protecting the world from an evil wizard. Take the movie Matrix, the hero wanted to save the world from evil machines and actually died doing that. Take any other popular book or movie you’ll find a similar theme.

So what conflict have you overcome to achieve something you dearly wanted?

You are the main character in your life story. The movie centres around you. But what kind of a character are you? Are you the hero of your story or are you just an average character? Are you inherently good or do you harbour sinister sentiments? Are you emotionally strong or a worry-some guy/girl? The answers to these questions can be found by looking at the tough choices made by the character at the bends in his/her life story. Dumbledore rightly said, “It’s not our abilities that show who we are, it’s our choices”. Did you ever say NO to an opportunity which seemed tough? Did you go out of your way, enduring pain and unpleasantness to help others? If you are unhappy or unsatisfied with your life, what would you have done differently to change things?

A character is what he does.

It’s very easy to fall into a slump. In the ongoing pandemic days, it’s easier to just stay in bed in the morning, to just roam around lazily in the house in your pyjamas, to think that our best days are getting wasted. Most of us start giving up easily, we set out on a dusty path, hoping to overcome the heat and the dust and then reach our destination. But when path gets rocky or muddy, and the end doesn’t seem near, we feel stuck. And that marks the beginning of a bad story.

So how can we lead a movie-worthy story? I think we should take life as it comes. Maybe life just happened and there is no supreme deity who created us or is watching us from above. Maybe we just happened to be here by mere coincidence and we are on our own. So, what we can do is live the life the best way we could. Make plans AND execute them. Push ourselves into meaningful but tough situations and create bends in our story. Look for what gives us happiness, and pursue it. Just don’t confuse happiness with pleasure. Pleasure is short term, it is materialistic, happiness comes from within and from others and is kind of spiritual. Take that solo trip that you always wanted to take, learn that skill that you always wanted to learn, read as much as you can, help others in getting them out of their bad stories. In today’s world of social media, the story we tell ourselves are different from what we tell the world. Bring a synchronicity between the two. Communicate your emotions and feelings to others, so that they understand what your character is thinking. Meet more people, talk more, live more, create an epic story and become a somebody!

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Pranay Kumar Chaudhary

Pranay Kumar Chaudhary

A complex guy. Emotionally optimistic and a social introvert with a taste for computer engineering.