Am I an extra?

Person walking through bustling city streets.

When I was a kid, I always thought that if I was in a story; I’d be one of the main characters. Being older, I’ve started to realise that there are a lot of published autobiographies, and I’m not a main character in any of them. So now I’ve started to wonder, am I actually just a background extra? Am I just here to fill out the world?

Why would that be a bad thing? What’s wrong with living out an ordinary, humble life? Do I really want to be involved in the highly stressful and fantastical events that make for engaging stories? I think I have three issues with feeling like an “extra”: lack of meaning, lack of control, and lack of impact.

Lack of impact

What’s the point of being in the world if I’m never “on-screen” for stories and moments that actually matter? I hate the thought of leaving no significant mark, of not being involved in the world. There’s no reaction in the story when extras die, there’s no mention of it. It’s like they never even existed.

Lack of control

Another issue is feeling a lack of control. Extras don't have the ability to be main characters, even if they want too. The fate of the faces in the background is usually entirely dependant on the hero’s quest.

Lack of purpose

Even for people who have an impact, and are the main characters in an autobiography. Maybe they’re still extras anyway. Extras who have published a book. Are their stories really that interesting, or do they just publish these books to convince themselves they must be? What is the point of their story? Is there a purpose to it?

Am I an extra?

I started thinking: What do I have control over? Most broadly, my decisions. What is my impact? The result of those decisions. What gives my life purpose? If the impact of those decisions serves a purpose, I guess that's something. I might be an extra in lots of people’s stories, but that doesn’t mean I have no control, impact or purpose. Especially to those closest to me.

For more information on finding meaning, you can visit the Wellbeing Hub.

Tagged in What messes with your head