What do you do then?
I figured I’d try and keep these sort of blog posts coming. Gives me something to write about without having to wrestle with any screencaps or watch any anime.
And this week’s post ties into last week’s post, which tied into the prior week’s post. Last week’s post was about how we often step back and deny an opportunity to stand out among our peers out of embarrassment. This week let’s open that topic up even more.
How much do we have to do in order to live a fulfilling life?
Or will life just fall into our laps, like what we often see depicted in anime?
Anime often likes to show us the seemingly best option – being thrust into an exciting life from outside circumstances. Be it due to the people around you, something you witnessed, some supernatural phenomenon… we’ve seen it all. From seemingly simple changes in slice of life where a reclusive character is brought out of their shell, to extraordinary situations that change everything about a character’s life.
But remember, many anime stories, and stories in general, are created to appeal to the regular person. They are designed in a way that often allows us to put ourselves in the protagonist’s shoes, to self-insert or think about what we would do in that situation. But these stories are built around the protagonist(s). In real life, we are ALL the protagonist of our own lives.
And while some stories show us some very extreme scenarios, such as isekai anime where an ordinary person is transported to a new world where they can flourish, I believe that slice of life anime is the worst offender for leading us on. With isekai, and other fantastical situations, we know that it’s not really possible.
Slice of life anime though, it shows us situations that could technically happen. The question is, will they? If we just put our head down and keep to ourselves, will we somehow still find ourselves surrounded by friends or on the path to a more exciting and fulfilling life a year from now? Can we just sit on our hands and wait for life to do everything for us?
I think the answer should be obvious here.
Life waits for no one.
Some people do get lucky, and some people certainly can end up in a situation where the people and environment around them changed their lives or set them on the right path.
But most of us won’t be so lucky as to think that everything will just work out on it’s own if we just sit back and wait. The only thing we can be sure of is that our time is running out. One day becomes one week. One week becomes one month…
Do you consider yourself lucky?
Are you a fan of gambling?
Because that’s exactly what we’re doing when we sit back and wait for things to change in our lives without making any effort to change ourselves. As is the theme with these recent posts of mine, change comes from within. You might think that moving somewhere, or starting a new job, or entering into a relationship will change you, but it won’t.
You have to both recognize what you’d like to change in your life, and then make the appropriate effort to change it. It always looks so easy when someone else is doing it, such as our beloved anime protagonists, but in reality, it’s something we have to work at. And it’s not always easy.
Which leads us to the other question – how much do we have to do in order to live a fulfilling life?
Of course, there’s no singular answer to this.
It all depends on the individual.
What do you want to accomplish? Where do you want to be in the future, short and long term? What kind of person do you want to be? What do you see in yourself that you can improve?
If you are content with your life, then you won’t have as much work to do! But you should really think about your current situation, and ask yourself: In the future, will I be able to look back on my life as it is right now and be satisfied with the effort I’ve put in?
I’ve mentioned it several times, but I’ll mention it again, because it’s an example of my own efforts. Ever since coming to Japan, I’ve tried my best to say “Yes” to more invitations and offers to do something with others. I’ve also made an effort to make more invitations myself, and to see those “we should do X sometime” situations actually become reality.
I’m actually trying to keep mental notes of those, so that I can actually follow up when the time is appropriate. Which likely means I’ll be doing a lot of skiing this winter! But we’ll see, because it takes two to tango and many people say these things not expecting (or wanting) them to actually happen.
That’s my effort though. I wanted to stop missing out on spending time with others, making friends, and spending less time in my apartment. I’m a fairly introverted person, I love spending time alone. But if I continue to do so, then my life will amount to much less. As much as I enjoy playing games, or watching anime, these aren’t activities that are going to lead to meaningful experiences.
So while I really enjoy spending time alone, I also now understand that to do so would be to allow my life to pass me by. The chances are against me that some random person will knock on my door one day that will lead to a complete transformation of my life. I have to put the effort in myself. Simple going to work, and then going home, and never doing anything else isn’t going to cut it.
That’s how I see it anyways, and how I’ve assessed my own situation.
Everyone’s situation will be different.
Something that has really worked for me is putting time into self-reflection. I often try to maintain a level of self-awareness that allows me to pay close attention to how I’m doing and if I’m doing enough for myself. Here’s an example of the sort of questions I like to keep in the back of my mind:
- What do I want, and what am I doing to get there?
- What are my shortcomings, and how can I work on them?
- What do I do that I consider productive, and am I doing enough of it?
- Am I happy with what I’m doing now, or am I content with my life as it is?
I feel like the end of the day, before I go to sleep, is a good time to think about how the day went and figure out if it was a productive day, or if I fell short in anyway or made any mistakes. Sort out any regrets and just recognize anything that I could have done better for the next time a similar situation could arise.
I think doing all of this has allowed me to become much more content with my life, and feel like I’m not just stagnating. I used to always feel like my life was stagnating and going nowhere. But once I started to pay attention, and put an effort into it, I’ve been able to better diagnose myself.
Life won’t wait for you, and often life won’t give you lemons. It’s easy to look at other people making lemonade with their lemons and think that life gave them lemons, but that’s likely not the case. Chances are, they went out and picked the lemons themselves.
We have to put an effort into our lives, or else it won’t put an effort into us.
I know I write with a lot of authority here, because I believe my words to be true. But I also acknowledge that I only know what I know, and that I’m still learning as I live, still making mistakes. So I don’t want anyone to get the impression that I’m bragging when I write posts like this.
If anything, these posts are more of an example of the sort of internal discussions I have with myself all the time on these sort of topics. Lately I’ve been enjoying writing posts where I look at an aspect of anime and compare it to real life. Hopefully some of you enjoy these posts, too.
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.