In our day-to day lives we play a role—small or large—in each other’s stories. Sometimes we are the comic relief, the best friend, the loving mother/father figure that espouses wisdom. Other times we have a less flattering role: We are the bad guy.
To be the bad guy in someone’s narrative, you don’t necessarily need to be a bad guy. You could be someone who wouldn’t take someone’s shift on your day off, accidentally cut someone off in traffic, or broke someone’s heart due to irreconcilable differences.
In such instances, you transform from you—a generally well-meaning but flawed person—into a villain. A cackling monster who steps on puppies and tricks people into eating raison cookies by telling them they are chocolate chip.
When the hapless hero tells the tragic tale of how you broke their heart, they won’t tell the audience how they yawned at your grandpa’s funeral, or repeatedly took $20s out of your wallet without asking.
If you are a former friend who “abandoned them,” they won’t inform the listener of all the times they hurled verbal abuse at you for trying to cheer them up, the times they called you at 3:00 a.m. to cry about all the stupid decisions they made that predictably lead to disaster. (ex: I can’t believe my boyfriend who has cheated on me three times cheated on me again! Wah!)
There will be no Wicked styled retelling of the story. You are stuck with the narrative they ascribe to you. You are a sociopath with an off-shore account that probably travelled to You-Know-Whose Island to bathe in the blood of the innocent.
Sure, the occasional listener (perhaps a mutual friend) may be discerning enough to entertain an alternative point of view. However, most take the original tale at face value and do no further investigation.
You can balk, you can try to explain, but most of the time, it’s useless. People will take sides, friendships will be destroyed and relationships disintegrated.
People will believe what they want to believe and there’s nothing you can do about it.
But you don’t have to let it get you down.
In fact, you can embrace it if you want to. You’re the bad guy, the main antagonist, the evil, repulsive, unemotional monster that crushed their feelings.
It’s not true…but maybe it doesn’t need to be.
You can wear it like a badge of honor. You’re someone who doesn’t take crap or deal with people who let you down. You don’t back down from your beliefs or make sacrifices unnecessarily for people who don’t appreciate it anyway.
If that makes you a “bad guy,” so what?