Sometimes I sit down with a concept or idea in mind and put words to paper, not sure where that original idea will take me. Other times I have a clear notion, but that doesn’t always end up being the destination. This particular rabbit trail is inspired by a television show, and for some reason it begs the question of what it feels like to be on the outside of something. Or when characters on the outside aren’t give a chance.
As humans, most of us look at situations we aren’t a part of, and form opinions based on what we see. No matter how this comes about, it’s good to look for truth. This isn’t coming from a “politically correct” mentality but instead is from perspective from the stages of life.
In the past month I watched the first half of Switched at Birth. In it, two families discover their daughters were switched, and for sixteen years, they raise a child that’s not biologically theirs. Although both deal with this revelation differently, the two girls, Daphne and Bay, have to overcome jealousy and upheaval until they realize they are each other’s greatest advocate; only they know what the other feels. But it’s Daphne who has an even bigger hurdle to overcome because she is deaf. She’s literally living in a form of chaos, on the outside of relationships she desires to be a part of.
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This is a kind of outside culture we see time and again not only in our lives, but in the stories we see. Think of those Jane Austen creates; many of her heroines are on the edge of insanity by their relations (or choices!). Fanny Price is taken in by an uncle but receives no love. Lizzie Bennett mistakes Mr. Darcy for someone he is not. The nosy, well-meaning Emma Woodhouse thinks she knows best how to secure the happiness of those around her. Then there’s the neglected daughter Anne Elliott who does have close (relation) family, and assumes the tasks the rest of her family loathes to see to. In society and more tragic, to her family, she’s a “forgotten” woman without value.
I also recently re-watched the adorable romance Never Been Kissed. In it, the protagonist takes a moment to stand up, confess her truth and call out the people she endlessly tries to impress, only to realize that this high school experience is no different from her last.
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Each of these characters brings to mind examples of people who belittle. Perhaps none of these examples so aptly – or beautifully demonstrate this point as much as an ABC Family Channel series.
Family should be a safe space. They should be who protect us, stand up for us and stick by our side no matter what. I don’t think it “unusual” that we truly “know” those who mean the most to us; preferences and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. If not, it demonstrates how wrapped up in our own world we are. This is the struggle Daphne and Bay must navigate.
Life is going to throw us a curveball (or two). This is a certainty. Some of them we might anticipate and prepare for, others will take us down, but it’s what we do with them, how we react that will determine the kind of human being we grow into. Sometimes being on the outside of relationships is lonely. Sometimes it spells “safety,” but then, keeping away means we aren’t really living life to its fullest potential.
What stories do you see “characters on the outside” of their lives? Do you see any favorites listed here? Comment all of your thoughts below.
Note: this article/discussion was published in the archives five or more years ago. Since moving to WordPress, 90% of the reviews, lists and articles need re-formats and/or other updates. Updated edits and changes to fit current formats have been made; updates like new photos, prior to re-publication.