Friday, January 06, 2012

Conveying Love

Happy New Year!

Usually my New Year's is busy, full of meeting people and doing things. This year I welcomed the new year alone for the first time, maybe ever.

I actually had a good mix of being able to go out and see many people, do karaoke, and feel blessed by the people who wanted to be with me. Then I had about 5 days or so where I was completely alone, not bothering to leave the house except to get food. (being completely alone reverts me back to my "original state" of complete sloth and messiness. I accomplish far less when I have infinite free time than when I am busy and stressed. But it was nice to be able to do nothing for a while. I am however tired of it now.)

With so much free time on my hands, I did what any lazy, unmotivated person would do: caught up on watching my anime. :-D (Japanese study???)

The course of the week showed me how terrible some anime are out there, that 90% of anime seems to be school dramas, unrealistic and after a while, boring and tedious to watch. But then again, anime is a medium and not a genre, so I could say similar things about American TV and movies (except America isn't quite so obsessed with High School.) I spent quite a lot of time trying to find a new anime to watch that wasn't about boobs, harems or just plain violence. I did find a few. ;-)

The best one so far has been "Kimi ni Todoke." (I would also credit a blog commenter of mine for mentioning this on her blog, I read the manga and loved it.) This is a bit of a difficult title to translate. I've seen "Reaching You" or even "From Me to You."

The whole point of this story is about trying to convey your feelings to another person. It's a very sweet, innocent love story. The great thing about this story is that I find myself grinning like an idiot every time I read/watch it. It's deep, but not too deep, funny, sad, real, but fairytail-like in it's simple innocence. It has all the great elements that make "Cinderella" such a compelling story.

It's a classic, out-cast girl meets popular boy story. The boy, who has the greatest smile ever, is popular with everyone. He doesn't judge people based on their looks, or status. He accepts them for who they are. And he's known for the fact that he cares about the weak, or the downtrodden. He goes out of his way to include everyone.

Then we have the girl. She is easily misunderstood. She looks like the really creepy character from the movie "The Ring." She has poor social skills, because no one will talk to her. Yet, she is actually a very sweet girl, who only wants to help people. She is so innocent, that she never even resents the fact that people don't speak to her, or seem afraid of her. She merely accepts it as normal, and does her best to not upset people. (Only she is rather lacking in social skills and is rather shy, which just makes her seem more scary to the kids around her.)

They meet on the way to school on the first day. The boy is a little lost, so the girl points out the correct path. The boy, smiles naturally and says "Thank You." The girl is surprised because this is the first time someone has actually thanked her for trying to help. The usual reaction is fear and an apology. Her usually tense, scary looking face, relaxes for a moment, and she smiles a true smile.

The boy becomes intrigued by this quiet girl. At school she is nervous and unable to communicate well with her classmates. There are many rumors of how she can see ghosts and curses people around her. She is difficult to approach, and everyone just assumes she wants to be left alone. The boy also begins to come to the conclusion that she doesn't like him, because she is always so stiff and runs away from him when he tries to talk to her or include her.

But really, she just doesn't know how to convey herself to those around her.

Eventually, they both learn how to communicate. The boy learns how to think about the other person and their feelings, instead of just his own. He learns how to face his own jealousy and possessiveness and tries his best to deal with the frustrations of loving a very dense girl.

The girl learns that it is not "natural" for her to be alone. She is not worth less than other people, and she should have more confidence in herself. If she tries, she finds she is able to communicate with others, and they can understand her. She finds friends and learns how to become open to the world around her. She learns about joy and love and friendship. And finally, she learns how to accept love from others, something she always believed was never possible for someone like herself.

Both of them liked each other the whole time, but because they couldn't communicate so that the other could understand, there were many misunderstandings and frustrations.

It's such a good story, with so many things to think about. Like why we try to confess our feelings. Are we trying to manipulate the person into loving us back? Or do we just want to be understood. Why don't we confess our feelings? Are we afraid of being rejected, embarrassed, or feel like we don't deserved to be loved and we have no chance, so what's the point? How often do we think of the other person's feelings or circumstances? I mean REALLY think about them? Do we just assume things and never think past them? "Of course he can't like someone like me. So what's the point?" "I'm the only one that's suited for that person." etc. How often do we really allow the other person to choose for themselves? If we don't convey our feelings how can they choose? If we only assume things for that person, is anything really accomplished?

They are all really good questions for me. I struggle a lot with how to communicate. I don't want to become a nuisance to others. Or rather, I don't want them to think of me badly, or irritate them. I often feel like my affections would be unwanted or out of place. I don't want to "overstep my station" or become too arrogant. So I hide in false humility, devaluing myself in fear or uncertainty.

When I was young, in school, I often heard that boys liked it when girls confessed to them. So, being the slightly oblivious child I was, I confessed several times to boys I liked. This of course resulted in rather uncomfortable situations, where the boy was embarrassed that someone like me confessed. I fortunately have good taste in boys, so none of them were mean to me, but none of them wanted to go out with me either. The boys probably didn't know what to do, and I put them in an awkward position. Eventually I learned that confessing just made things awkward. (I was a bit slow, it took me a while.)

But in the story, at one point the popular boy is confessed to, and he gently tries to reject the girl (since he likes a different girl). The girl knew she was going to be rejected, but still wanted him to know her feelings. In the end, through her tears, she asks, "Were you even a little happy when I confessed to you?" And he says, "Yes, it made me happy. Thank you."

This was a new idea for me. Before whenever I thought back to my past and how I just confessed obliviously, I became very embarrassed for being such a clueless dork. I assumed that I only created an awkward situation, and the boy was just troubled. Of course having me confess didn't make him happy at all. But when you think about it... Even when someone you don't have romantic feelings for, confesses to you, you feel a little happy, don't you? Somewhere you get a little puffed up from knowing you are loved, even if you don't return the love, and it makes you feel a little uncomfortable.

I hope the boys in my past felt that way, if only a little.

Looking back at things now, I can see a little more clearly. Before, I thought that my confessing was stupid, because I was stepping outside of my appointed station. I was an outcast, in the lower social rankings, so all the boys I liked were outside of my range. Of course I had no chance. That's why it was silly for me to confess. Until recently, this is what I believed, and it is a belief that still shapes how I interact with those around me today.

And it is a lie.

I still think I was clueless, but now I can see the real area I was clueless in. I was trying to manipulate people into loving me back. If I confess, then maybe he will love me too. This is how I thought. It's how I still think sometimes. I was confessing for my own convenience. Trying to manipulate the situation in my favor. Trying to "get" the prize, the perfect boyfriend that would make my life better.

But that's not what love is.

Love is thinking about the other person. Love is wanting happiness for someone else. Love doesn't put down people, (yourself included.) Love isn't about making the other person love me back. When I confess, my goal should not be to convince the other person to love me back. The goal should be to let the other person know how I feel. Communication. I love you. I don't need anything in return. I just love you.

Isn't this how God shows us His love? He isn't trying to manipulate us with His love. He doesn't show His love to only the "good" people or the "Christians." He loves everyone. He loves even when He knows He'll be rejected. He tells us He loves us in the languages of our hearts; in the beauty of a sunset, in a moving piece of music, in the quietness of a clear night, the majesty of the mountains or the charisma of the sea. We each have our own way of receiving love, and God speaks to us personally though that. But we, often don't hear, or refuse to understand. (Like the girl who no matter how hard the poor boy tried to convey his feelings, remained convinced she was unlovable.)

I think that learning how to love, is learning how to communicate. Learning how to think about the other person instead of assuming things about them. Learning to listen and understand what the other person is really saying. Learning to receive in honesty.

"I love you" should be a way to build up and support another person, not manipulate them into fulfilling you.

I'm very thankful for stories that help me learn more about myself and life.

If you ever get a chance to watch or read "Kimi ni Todoke" I highly recommend it. (I recommend having two completely empty days if you want a marathon watching though.)

I feel like I have a little bit of a head start on the new year now.


Joni said...

The Live version is good, too. Though I think they need a sequel- they don't get real far into the story.

Lucy said...

I enjoyed your post :)

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Scott said...

Nice post! Keep up the good work in Japan.
God bless!