"You have to start romanticizing your life. You have to start thinking about yourself as the main character," the audio track croons over a twinkly, indie movie-ish soundtrack. Thanks to this audio and other "main character" trends, TikTok is inspiring people to harness main character energy in their everyday lives.
Though typically a the-world-revolves-around-me-attitude isn't typically one to endorse, this trend is about self-love at its core. It started out as a hashtag (which now has over five billion views) and has evolved into a popular meme format, where TikTokers film themselves longingly looking at vast expanses, dancing in the rain, and catching golden hour light in slow motion — as, well, a main character does. You might hear these videos soundtracked by the "romanticizing your life" audio, or a clip of "Mariners Apartment Complex" by Lana del Rey.
A particularly entertaining (and timely) evolution of this trend is the POV of a main character going home for the holidays. From over-dressing for a night out at the local pub to prove that you have developed an adult fashion sense, to rehearsing life updates before a family dinner, the trend shows just how much energy people spend thinking about how they will be perceived by the supporting characters in their life. Ultimately, being the main character of your own life is indicative of how you treat and see yourself.
Actor and creator Yasmine Sahid's main character videos on TikTok have amassed millions of views. She attributes the success of her videos, which she says she made to "humble" herself, to the universality of the need to be seen as successful. "We all want to be the main character of our town and we all want to show our old high school classmates that we’re living our best life, even if we’re not," Sahid tells Bustle.
Going home for the holidays may not be a possibility this year, but these TikToks show how common it is to struggle with stepping into that main-character role. "No matter how hard you deny it, there’s a little bit of yourself that wants to prove you’re no longer the same kid from high school and that you’re doing big things," says Sahid. Licensed psychologist Amy Jane Griffiths, Ph.D, N.C.S.P., tells Bustle that people might feel the need to "demonstrate [their] worthiness," particularly in the context of returning home for the holidays. Taking on main character energy is one way to do that. "Create your own definition of what success means," Griffiths suggests, "and try to shift your perspective regarding the value of what others think."
Though main character videos are made mostly in jest, there is an undercurrent of honesty that speaks to the vulnerable headspace many people find themselves in this time of year. It helps to know that being the main character doesn't necessarily mean having your life together — what a boring movie that would be! — it means not shying from the spotlight and authentically being yourself.
Amy Jane Griffiths, Ph.D, N.C.S.P, licensed psychologist, professor at Chapman University.