Anyone in the business of storytelling will tell you that conflict is what makes a story a story. It drives the action. It moves the characters and makes them fight for what they want. It makes them grow as (fictional) people. It’s what gives us the compelling stories that capture our imaginations.
And while it’s not a perfect correlation, a lot of us could also tell you that when those bumps appear in our own lives, they’re opportunities for us just like they are for our characters. Trouble is, knowing that doesn’t always make it any easier emotionally to handle those disappointments. Not when something takes you in a different direction than you expected to be going. Not when it feels like your slow, steady climb towards your goal has taken a sudden turn to the left. Not when you start questioning whether you made some mistake along the way that will delay you terribly if not prevent you entirely from reaching where you thought you were going.
Is this melodramatic? At least a little. (I write fiction for fun; what were you expecting?) Do I have a marginally unhealthy expectation that my life will follow a roughly sensible character arc, with obvious steps forwards and backwards, all moving towards a single concrete goal? Possibly. Oops. But can I still take advice from my favorite characters? Absolutely. Especially when all of them keep pushing through when there’s no easy way to get where they want to be.