Unpacking My 3 Fictional Selves

Every now and then, Twitter messes me up — a 73-character lightning tweet of conviction or a common hashtag stirring genuine conversation. I’m a thinker, I live in my head, I get lost in my head, and if something sparks a thought, I’ll likely be embroiled in a mental forest fire by eventide.

Twitter recently trended with the hashtag #DescribeYourselfIn3FictionalCharacters. As soon as I saw people posting their fictional alter egos, I set to work on the forest fire in my head.

I spent a lot of time thinking about which three fictional characters best represent my nonfictional self. I think I figured it out.

My Three Fictional Selves

I am Walter Mitty

Everything about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty resonated from the first time I watched the film on my #RunningTo road trip. The indy rock soundtrack, the lush Icelandic scenery, and most especially the introverted protagonist.

Walter daydreams about adventure but never actually goes on one. He works a cubicle job that keeps him locked indoors. He fantasizes about asking out the girl he works with and has to work up the courage to do so…online.

I first watched the movie in Boulder City, Nevada, hardly a week into what would be a 9-month trek around the continent. And I remember distinctly thinking…this guy is me. Walter is doing what I’m doing. He’s hopping on a helicopter and jumping into the ocean and skateboarding down a mountain after playing it safe his entire life.

I am Walter Mitty. I’m running away from my old life, and yet I’m also running to something greater.

I am John Locke

Back in its heyday, LOST was everything to me. I attended premiere/finale viewing parties with my high school friends, and I even created a short-lived blog totally obsessed with the show.

My clear favorite Oceanic 815 survivor was the bald-headed believer, John Locke. I saw more and more of myself in him the longer his story unspooled — particularly my spiritual life.

Before the plane crash, Locke is kidney-less paraplegic who felt screwed by the hand life dealt him. But then the plane crashes, and he finds new life on this mysterious island.

He wakes up from the crash and can walk. He enters the jungle and finds something beautiful.

While everyone else determines to band together in hopes of leaving the island, Locke isolates in belief of something greater than himself. He doesn’t worry. He knows he’s right where he’s supposed to be. He knows everyone is right where they’re supposed to be.

Locke often bucks heads with doctor Jack, the “man of science,” and Locke becomes known as the “man of faith.” He sees the magic in the island. Or perhaps the island sees the magic in him?

My favorite Locke scene involves his conversation with young Walt soon after the crash. It’s a simple chat about backgammon. And yet it is so much more.

I am John Locke. I’m a believer in light, and yet I am also dark.

I am Charlie Kelmeckis

I’ve only read and watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower in the last several months, but already the teenage protagonist of Charlie Kelmeckis penetrates the smokiest chambers of my mental forest fire.

It’s one thing to be the daydreamer-turned-adventurer like Walter Mitty. It’s one thing to be the victim-turned-believer like John Locke.

It’s another to be the introverted writer with wounds nobody can understand. Wounds even he can’t understand.

Charlie’s a quiet kid. He enters a new high school with no friends, and by the end of the first day his only friend is his English teacher. But over the course of the school year, Charlie finds a niche with the older kids. The seniors. They take him under his wing, and he experiences new life through them: his first party, his first drug trip, his first kiss.

Throughout the story, you know something deeper is wrong with Charlie, but you can never quite figure out what until the final reveal (which I’ll be kind enough not to spoil here). And while I’ve been fortunate never to suffer that kind of story, I have had to wrestle with this innate, unshakeable sense that

I

am

different.

I’m emotionally different from other guys, and I’m sexually different from other guys. I’m convinced I’m more different than the same.

I like to be alone. I like people, too, but only on my terms.

Like Charlie, I write. I write a lot. I write so much, and I wonder if anyone’s even listening or if I’m just rambling to satisfy some needed outpouring of myself.

I am Charlie Kelmeckis. And I like to tell myself I deserve less than the love others tell me I deserve.

Which three fictional characters best describe yourself?

  • Red

    Tom, you have been and will continue to be heard. I haven’t seen “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” but your description of him was kind of surreal for me. I have a cubicle job and I am constantly watching adventure videos on outside.com while at work (scary to say the least, haha). Like you, it would take some time to pick 3 characters that would depict me. I will have to work on that and respond at a later date. Until then.

    • Red, you need to see Walter Mitty. It’s become one of my favorite films. I think you’d enjoy it. Thanks for the affirmation that I am heard. That helps me tonight. Really does.

      All best in your own fictional character search!

  • Rebecka

    Very interesting to read, Tom! Did you choose between these and any other charachters?
    I saw the hashtag but I haven’t taken the time or energy to figure out my three characters, allthough I suspect Lorelei Gilmore might be one of them.

    • I had a couple others in the mix, but these were the ones that stirred loudest. With all three, I tried to cover the most significant aspects of my being: introversion, independence, spirituality, writing, etc.

      Lorelai is a good pick! She’s hilarious.