Navigating the Real World Through Fiction: A Journey of Lessons Learned

April 3, 2024by SHMA


The rush of nostalgia sweeps through my mind, bringing forth cherished memories of beloved fictional characters encountered through books, shows, and movies. These characters have been invaluable gifts, meeting me at different junctures of life, aiding in self-discovery, and shaping my understanding of strengths and weaknesses. They offer solace, resonance, and a sense of being heard and seen in ways I might never express on my own.

Stepping into the working world earlier than anticipated prompted concerns about readiness, leading me to seek advice wherever possible. Given my affinity for visual arts, I found a connection that significantly influenced both my personal and professional growth. The narratives and perspectives portrayed on screens, whether in theatres or on television, possess the power to impact human emotions and beliefs, transcending into various aspects of our existence.

Rather than drawing inspiration from Mary’s definition of professionalism, I choose to reflect on how my favourite fictional stories and characters have imparted lessons on thriving in workspaces.

  1. Create Your Space Instead of Fitting In

Drawing inspiration from Mike Ross in “Suits,” who navigated the legal profession without a formal degree, I found comfort and confidence during my early days as an Actuarial apprentice. While “Suits” may glamorise the legal world, the camaraderie, and respect displayed by the characters inspired me to aspire to similar qualities in my relationships. It reinforced that respect and value addition can be achieved even if one doesn’t fit traditional moulds, emphasising the importance of building a supportive network over time.

  1. Life Lessons Beyond College: A Lesson from Anne with an E

A favourite quote from “Anne with an E” reminds me that life lessons are not confined to college classrooms. Anne’s character, despite originating from a decades-old book, resonates as a timeless source of wisdom. Embracing the optimism of seeing the glass half full and understanding that maturity stems from values and upbringing rather than age, this narrative underscores the importance of keeping an imaginative perspective to connect with people and continue learning throughout life.

  1. Discovering the Silver Lining and Progressing: Lessons from Queen’s Gambit

During the contemplative days of the Covid period, “Queen’s Gambit” served as a reminder that extraordinariness is cultivated through persistent efforts. In the face of uncertainty, it highlighted the significance of focusing on what we can control and the gratification derived from helping others grow. This narrative encourages the idea that everyone possesses a silver lining, and nurturing one’s skills while contributing to others’ growth can be a rewarding journey.

  1. Curiosity Over Judgment: Insights from Ted Lasso

Inspired by Ted Lasso’s mantra, “Be curious, not judgmental”, the importance of approaching situations with an open mind and a genuine curiosity is emphasised. This mindset fosters understanding, cooperation, and positive interactions in both personal and professional spheres.

  1. Oppenheimer: The Unseen Benefits of Helping Others

Reflecting on the lessons learned during the Covid period, the slow and uncertain days underscored the importance of small, persistent steps toward personal growth. “Oppenheimer” serves as a reminder that, even when efforts seem to backfire, maintaining faith in progress can lead to extraordinary outcomes. Additionally, assisting others in developing their unseen potential contributes to personal and collective growth, creating a sense of fulfilment.


As I progressed in my career, the fictional characters and stories that entertained, challenged, and inspired me, have left lasting imprints on learning. While fictional narratives have provided an escape, they have also instilled an appreciation for the real world. Balancing both worlds enables us to nurture an authentic version of ourselves, ensuring that life happens for us and not to us.