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The life-changing quality of main character moments

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SEPTEMBER 02, 2021

Step by step, my eyes locked in on each pebble I would land on next, preparing myself for the rocky terrain of the Pacific Coast cliffs I had only seen in pictures and travel books. As I danced around the overgrown plants and built-in steps of the narrow sandy path, I averted my eyes from the ocean view. I wanted to save my awe for when the panorama of the waves hitting the rocks would exceed any other lookout I had ever experienced. Step by step, I made my way down, anxiously awaiting what would be a view that nearly brought tears to my eyes.

As my toes softened into the black sand of the small beach, I felt revived. It was as if the scorching heat of the sand lit a fire in my body, illuminating my amazement and overwhelming feelings of joy. With music playing in the background, the image of my friends running into the ice-cold water and the flawless glow of the sun hitting the Golden Gate Bridge on the horizon, I exceeded a point of happiness — I was euphoric. 

I couldn’t believe that what I was experiencing wasn’t some sort of daydream or blissful reverie that I had overindulged in to keep myself entertained during a lecture. There is only one way to describe the feeling I had and the impact it left on me: I had a main character moment.

The concept of “main character moments” has surfaced as the new fantasy that people yearn for. These are the moments that make you feel like you own the world for even just a second, and that all the eyes of surrounding outsiders are on you.

These are the moments when it seems as though you’re standing in the heat of your life’s peak, when that warm feeling of individualism and empowerment blurs your vision of everyone but yourself.

My main character moment challenged every other pinnacle experience in my life because it elevated my sense of self — I finally felt unique.

I felt special as I hit that sand, as if the cameras were rolling and my reaction was being recorded from all angles. It was like I had solidified my place in this world.

Yet I often wonder why it took up until my main character moment to feel this way and reach this transformative point in my life. 

Prior to this beach day, I felt like I was slipping through the cracks as I entered my new world on campus. Whether it was my inadequate balance of social life to school, imposter syndrome as a result of going to a university I felt was out of my league, discomfort in the groups I was hanging out with or displacement from my home on the other side of the country, I hit a low point before I reached this high.

Immediately after my heart swelled from the sight and feeling of my “perfect” moment, I had the raw sense that the world was my oyster. This tingling and inspiring moment put me on a better trajectory. It inspired me to grow as a person and climb out of the rut that I had created for myself.

I began to work out every day, work harder on my school work and foster relationships that made me a better, thoughtful person.

Looking back, my main character moment came at the perfect time in my life, like a ticking time bomb waiting to be set off and blow me in the right direction.

I attribute all of this progress in my life to the underlying feeling that beamed like a ray of sunshine when I smiled that day on the beach: I felt special.

Despite the billions of people living their own lives and billions of things happening around me, I finally felt I was worthy in that moment. I was worthy enough to see something as beautiful as Earth’s perfect complexion as the sun hit the sandy beach. I felt fortunate that out of everyone on this planet, including the friends I was with, I had the opportunity to experience this moment at a time that made such an impact on my life. 

I see now why main character moments are so desired. They lift you into the seemingly unattainable role of the protagonist, following in the footsteps of some of your greatest heroes on screen. The characters we admire choose a different trajectory after they are once again inspired to move forward despite the challenges they face, showing that with the opportunity to change, they choose good over bad. 

As I close my eyes to envision every ounce of stimuli on that beach, I take a second to recall a quiet thought that I had, remembering that in that moment I believed that I was the happiest person on earth. Maybe I just had to title my overwhelming sense of individualism because I couldn’t fathom another way to explain the sensation. Or, just maybe, it was correct: I actually was the happiest person on earth.

Off the Beat columns are written by Daily Cal staff members separate from the semester’s regular opinion columnists.

SEPTEMBER 03, 2021