Labor(Less) Day Musings On The Stories We Tell Ourselves

What's up with headcanon in real life? This story lover has thoughts.

Labor(Less) Day Musings On The Stories We Tell Ourselves

I read two books over this long weekend, both thrillers which happened to focus on long ago committed crimes and the longtime repercussions of childhood trauma. They were oddly therapeutic, maybe?

They got me thinking about how so many of our thought processes and beliefs, the very ways in which we see and navigate the world, are born out of falsehoods. Not necessarily due to someone's ill intent (though surely that can be a factor), but sometimes simply because of the flimsiness of personal memory. Or the way we piece together parts of stories, so they make sense.

the exterior of a book with the title "once upon a time" that's captioned with "tell me a story"

There's something deeply ingrained in each of us that balks at a story without resolution or whose dots don't actually connect, both in fiction and reality. We tend to do the same with both variations: devise headcanons.

For anyone who's been in fandom, we're often aware when we create headcanons, theories to fill in canon gaps or provide context for certain events. We'll blatantly label them and admit to their creation. But how often do we do the same thing in life and not acknowledge that the narrative we've accepted isn't necessarily true?

Life is incredibly messy and often doesn't provide the things we need from stories, like closure or the answer to the world's most infuriating question: why?

As someone who tends to search for meaning beyond what the world readily offers, it's amazing how often I run into a brick wall when attempting to understand a person's behavior. People are walking contradictions that rarely offer true insight to their thought processes or motivations, especially those who have a pattern of grievously wronging others.

Each of us lives in a microcosm of reality, nestled in our own unique experiences and personalities, coupled with the memories that shape us and propel us forward. And our headcanons are nearly always biased, colored by our already established like or dislike of someone, and used to explain or excuse their actions.

One person's hero can be another's abuser. Hell, depending on the timeframe, your hero and your abuser may turn out to be the same person. It's all about perspective and having a larger context for someone's behaviors.

Kenan Thompson saying "why does he do this?"

Is someone's kind gesture a true representation of care or a love-bombing tactic meant to hide their true nature and conceal other behaviors? One man brings home flowers because he simply wants to surprise his wife, while another does it because he's cheating and doesn’t want her to suspect. Same behavior. Wildly different reads easily made clear by something we rarely ever have in life: the omniscient narrator.

We each have bits and pieces, certainly of other people's experiences, but even of our own stories. Sometimes there are chapters where we don't remember our own history (and can't simply flip back to a previous page to verify it), or times we haven't even come to the realization of what's motivating our own behaviors.

And it's curious to see what happens when someone is confronted by irrefutable proof that whatever core belief they hold in another person, is false. Some will tie themselves in knots to deny the destruction of what their reality is built on. Some will simply accept the new information and make changes accordingly, no matter how difficult. Still others of us craft something out of the in-between, whether by choice or some underlying necessity, merely in order to survive.

As irrational and painful as that process can be, I think there's something beautiful about it, the perseverance of the human spirit in action.

Anyhoo, purple pig satellite. Just thinking out loud.