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For the plot

Not too long ago, I came across an online video about “doing it for the plot.” It was a casual, 15-second clip about how the irrational decisions and impulsive choices we make, despite how bad the short-term consequences may seem, should be seen as contributions to the “plot” of our lives, as opportunities for adaptation and growth. The idea is that we’re in the director’s seat, writing out our own script at all times.

This perspective resonated with me, as it gave me refreshing solace for all the questionable judgments that have constructed my own plotline. I feel that I’m at a crossroads in my life where I often find myself questioning whether I’m too old to get caught up in juvenile melodrama, all the while feeling terrifyingly unprepared for adult responsibilities. It’s comforting to think that if there ever was a time for me to commit to the plot, it would be now. 

In consistency with this analogy, we see the beauty of flawed judgment calls in some of TV’s most beloved protagonists and how their respective plots unfold. As a young woman encountering her early 20’s, I turn to categorically “chick-flick” characters for guidance and affirmation. From Rory Gilmore in “Gilmore Girls” to Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City” or Jessica Day in “New Girl”, there have been countless occasions on which I would roll my eyes at the women on screen and their recklessness, their insecurities or their theatrics. But these traits are exactly what keeps me coming back to these comfort shows. 

It’s the fact that while we are quick to label these realistically flawed characters as “annoying” or “overdramatic” for their decisions or reactions, protagonists are meant to blunder and mess up. I doubt I would have the same devotion to Rory if I didn’t relate to her career crises or her fixation on academic achievement, or to Carrie if I didn’t see a bit of myself in the impracticality of her financial or romantic priorities. How dull and unrealistic would these shows be if all these girls did was read self-help books and immediately find productive purpose in their lives? 

It may seem frivolous to take this perspective to validate every misguided turn we take. An impulsive haircut or an overly emotional text message could fill us with regret or even embarrassment that surely could have been prevented by a second of further thought. But as of right now, these “wrong” decisions seem to be some of the most significant factors that help me figure out what would have been the “right” thing to do, and what it is that I really need at this point in my plot. It’s an over-simplistic, perhaps even imprudent mindset to treat our day to day lives as a growing plotline, but there’s a liberating sense in the idea that when every episode in each season comes to a conclusion, we are left with a new beginning and a series of lessons behind us. 

Doing it for the plot doesn’t have to mean blind commitment to irrational decisions. Often it is just as simple as splurging on online shopping and having to work an extra shift the next week, going on a bad date and getting to recap it with your girlfriends or underperforming on an exam and realizing that you might have chosen the wrong major. 

Call it youthful indiscretion, call it material for the memoir I’ll be writing once I gain world fame, call it Gen-Z’s response to the millennials’ overworn “YOLO” trademark. Call it what you want, but we’re doing it all for the plot. 

Reyna Lim is a sophomore studying Finance with a minor in Journalism. She enjoys writing about her unsolicited opinions, assessing celebrity homes in Architectural Digest videos, and collecting lip gloss. Reach out with coffee bean recommendations and 80’s playlists at slim6@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author, not necessarily those of The Observer.