on life, ambitions, and dreams


On Character Development

a boy meets a girl

I just watched a chick flick of the most classic variety. You know the one – girl meets boy. Boy is not a love interest at first but as their platonic relationship develops so does the web of lies about who she is as a person. He has no idea that this person he’s growing close to is not at all who people think she is. His feelings are genuine and so are hers. But in walks another woman who develops feelings for the man as well.

Things get interesting. The lies run thick and there is no way to untangle the mess and reveal the truth. The other woman takes this opportunity to reveal the girl for who she really is in a way that is most inconvenient for them all. The girl’s world crashes like a tree falling in the forest except everyone is there to watch and listen. The girl’s world as she hoped it would be falls apart dramatically.

Skip to the credits and you’ll miss the last quarter of the movie where the girl reveals her self, apologizes for her motivations, and the girl and the boy are free from the baggage of the lies to celebrate their true feelings; happily ever after.

Cue the music.

These movies exist everywhere and it has me thinking about the role character development plays in fiction and in real life.

In this particular movie, technically the girl was not telling a lie, but others were telling it for her based on her actions. How many times have you met someone and you’ve filled in the gaps about their life and as a result built them up into someone they really weren’t? And from there, when they did something that was out of the character you built for them they disappointed you or changed how you view them?

I do it all the time.

We are each the author of our own life story. You are the person I have created of you based on how we act together, apart, how I watch you engage with others, and the actions you do and don’t do. I can’t help it, and you can’t help doing that to me either. You are going to impress me when you do things that I don’t expect; and you’re going to disappoint me when you do things that I wasn’t prepared for either.

You are your own person, and I’m just the writer, I can’t help it and neither can you. It’s why you say, “Wow, that surprised me,” and I say, “I knew you’d really like this.”

You are the person you are based on who I create you to be through my own eyes and experiences. The best part about stories, movies, and fiction is that they’re all scripted and go according to a formula that works and the audience expects. The problem with real life is the characters I create for the people I know have a high likelihood for being absolutely wrong, in the most pleasant or the worst way. And the character you’ve built me up to be may do exactly the same thing. I may entertain you, shock you, bore you, and disappoint you without you even realizing that I’ve gone against the expectations you set for me.

If you are the author of the story of your life, would you ever tell a character who is acting in a way that is outside the characteristics you wrote for them? Do you even have a right to do so?

Photo Credit: chez_sugi

Tags: , , ,

  • KelleyP

    Excellent post Laura! I’ve been learning lately that no matter who a person *thinks* they are, who they are actually *being* to others is who a person *really* is. nnAlone on a deserted island, without someone there to experience us or even to read our memoirs scrawled on tree bark, our character does not exist. The very existence of our character is in how it is viewed and reflected back to us in our everyday conversations, actions, and interactions. nnDoes someone have the ‘right’ to tell a person when they don’t meet expectations? It depends on if those expectations were communicated up front and agreed upon. If so, then yes. If not, then it sounds like an awesome opportunity for a life-changing convo. 🙂

    • KelleyP

      Just saw this quote this morning: People “acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way.” – Aristotle

      • “I’ve been learning lately that no matter who a person *thinks* they are, who they are actually *being* to others is who a person *really* is.”nnThat’s an interesting statement and can be interpreted two ways:nn1) A person is defined by the way people see and define them, and/orn2) A person is defined by the actions they have with and towards others.nnWhich way did you intend it to mean?

        • KelleyP

          It is intended both ways: That our being/character is defined by our actions as experienced and interpreted by others. Because without others, is there a character to be developed, experienced, or defined?

  • Brianne

    It’s why crushes so seldom develop into true love. It’s not impossible, but the cards are stacked against them. In a crush, you’re free to stick that other person up on a pedestal and fantasize about how perfect they are. The object of your crush rarely lives up to the expectation you’ve built for them.nYes, I know it’s not exactly the point you were making, but it’s been a long day and I’m currently unable to express my understanding of your deeper meaning, so I went with the surface level analogy. 😉

    • It’s not the point, but it does relate. If two people enter into any relationship (business, platonic, love) and don’t have the same expectations, it probably won’t last long.nnThanks for the perspective, Brianne.

  • Pingback: lamiki » Blog Archive » Being Silent, Unplugging & Going Dark()