A Dose of Dijana: Fictional Characters – Making (Imaginary) Friends

There’s a tiny dog that lives in front of my building.

Since stray dogs are pretty common around here – don’t even get me started on that one – not many people pay attention to the poor fella huddled in a corner.

The dog is a mix of the famous corgi and some other unknown species that makes it look weird… but still cute in my own Dijana kind of way.

We’ve been developing a peculiar friendship for a while now – I bring him food, (for some reason, I think it’s a ‘he’), he waves his tail but we don’t touch. I just leave his food on the side and he waits until I’m gone to eat it.

Actually, I’m mortified of dogs and unfortunately, I think my half-Corgi friend over here is mortified of people.

I’m assuming the mutual fear we feel for each other is the foundation of our strange friendship – but rest assured, we’re somehow making it work so both sides are happy.

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Now you’re probably wondering whether I’ve finally lost it and published the wrong text but no – my sanity is still intact.

Well, for now, that is.

But my dog friend got me thinking. Isn’t that exactly how we make friends in life as well – by having something in common and being able to relate to one another?

Then, we move on to the part of understanding and support – I can tell you that empathy and sympathy go hand in hand if you’re interested in having lifelong friends next to you.

In practice, that means you bring them ice cream & wine whenever someone’s having a meltdown and you don’t judge them for drinking the whole bottle.

However, that goes for your real friends.

But what happens when you start having something in common with someone imaginary – as the case may be here, with the fictional character of the book you’re reading at the moment?

Well, it’s obvious – the two of you make friends!

Not exactly the same type of friends as the ones you have in real life but then again – who am I to judge?

You think I’m wrong here?

Think again:

If the book is captivating, it’s very easy to get absorbed into a world that someone else created for you and meet your “friends” living there.

So you start spending your days wanting to learn more about your new “friend”. You gulp down page after page in the quest to find out more about them and the unknown is always intriguing.

If that’s not enough, you fill whatever voids you have about their personality with your own assumptions.

As the case might be, you may even make “enemies” – though I find it cute when “enemies” become “friends” in the end as well.

In fact, even when I was working on book translations, if I ever happened to relate to a character that much, I’d go on and translate his/her words exactly in a way that I’d say them – making them read much more vivid than they’d be if I’d simply translated them.

Dang – I was even translating jokes in the same way I would tell them!

And should I even mention the sinking feeling in your chest once you’re done with the book and the only way to spend more time with your “friends” is to start reading the book all over again?

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So I was wondering – why do we do that?

Why do we experience the same range of emotions – empathy and sympathy included – the same way as we do with our real friends?

I mean, imagining fictional characters living is one thing – but why do we feel the need to treat someone that obviously doesn’t exist as our friend?

Now, brace yourself – it’s time for that too-deep-you-can-even-see-Adele-rolling part of the post.

It’s simple – because of human nature.

Sometimes, we all need to be told that everything’s alright. Seeing someone struggling with the same things as ourselves makes life just a bit easier – and even though it’s fiction, book characters have the same problems as us.

Since the real world isn’t that full of people clearly expressing whatever they might be going through, you relate to the next best thing that feels… human enough.

You have to admit – it feels nice to get a bit of courage or hope or motivation – or whatever you’re lacking – even if that comes from someone who can’t really be qualified as a real friend.

And it’s even nicer when all of that comes from someone you relate to – no matter whether that’s a fictional character or a half-Corgi dog. At the end of the day, feeling understood and supported makes life feel a bit more bearable and much more enjoyable.

So if a fictional “friend” inspired you to change a few things and become a better person, then I’d go on and say – that’s one good friend to have.


Next time, I’ll be talking about the must-read classics! Is there anything YOU would like me to talk about? Share with us in the comments and I’ll make sure to include it in some of my next posts!

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