'In the movies, we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady. But for some reason, you're behaving like the best friend' - Arthur Abbott, The Holiday.
I've been on a rom-com binge of late and having watched what may be considered an unhealthy number of chick flicks in one week, I've noticed something most saddening. The girl who played the roommate in Failure to Launch (Terrible movie. Yikes. Don't watch) is the girl who is the roommate in Confessions of a Shopaholic. The girl who played Rachel's sister in Friends (Amy) is the sister in Going the distance. The tall, insanely beautiful blonde who was screwed over by the commitment phobe in Made of Honor is screwed over once again by another commitment phobe in He's Just Not That Into You. And let me not even get into the best friends and bridesmaids.
If you're wondering if people ever do that, just think of the first insecure person who comes to mind - someone who fights you every step of the way, someone who doesn't miss the smallest opportunity to needle you or try to make you feel small - we all have at least one or two in our lives. Or think of a time when you felt intimidated by someone else's gifting, looks or very nature - to the point that you said and did things that were totally out of character - times when you felt small simply by being around someone you thought always stole the spotlight - your spotlight - The Ron Weasley Complex, as I call it.
It happens - even to the best of us in an unguarded moment. But I blame this on closed, stick-in-the-mud society that tells you that there are only so many ways to do it right - to turn out right. It all begins with the 'What do you want to be when you grow up' question. What's up with that anyway? It's almost as if what I am right now counts for nothing. Like, I am a non-being till I become a doctor or architect or whatever else. And that's not all - ingrained in that question is another implication - that you are what you do. And that, I believe, is the idea that got us all in this mess.
I mean, if I believe that I'm only as good as what I do, then I'm going to start seeing everyone whose gifting remotely resembles mine, as a threat. What a sad way to live! That kind of life would win me a one-way ticket to the shrink's office faster than I can say Prozac. And it did for a brief well - long, long ago. But I have emerged whole and healthy from the loony bin to have you all know that you don't have to live that way. You are not what you do. As Mark Chironna puts it - 'You're a human being, not a human doing.'
And what a liberating theory this is - it means I'm not in competition with anyone else at all. Because all competition does is take the focus off what's in my hand to what's in someone else's.
And as J.K Rowling would tell you - The wand chooses the wizard. So I don't care if you have a fancy, 11" wand made of holly with a phoenix feather core. I've come to understand that it will never work quite as well in my own hand as the broken, hand-me-down wand that chose me. And if I would only keep my chin up through all the embarrassment and the misfired spells, some day, a 14" wand made of willow with a core of unicorn hair will pick me.
And I will no longer have to go through life as the best friend or the forgotten sixth child - because in the end, all the wand is supposed to do is make me realize that only one person gets to be me and no one else qualified.
Judy is a compulsive theorist and dreamy single-mum. She believes in serendipity, The Butterfly Effect and is pop-culture-crap intolerant. She is also the best-selling author of Two Fates - The Story of My Divorce