I don’t like people. I don’t. They drain me. If everything was stripped away and, like the kids in Kokoro Connect, I was just acting on my impulse, I would push everyone away and only talk to others as absolutely needed.
And so, I relate to Shizuku of Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. As the series begins, she doesn’t have any friends, nor does she want any. She reemphasizes her feeling that friends are unnecessary in episode two.
I also relate to Shizuku because of her singular mindedness on academics. I wasn’t as obsessed as her (I spent much more time speaking on the phone and typing instant messages in high school than on studies), but school was always of prime importance to me, especially as I attempted to chase down our valedictorian in class rankings.
But just as I placed some importance on friendships, Shizuku begins to do so as well. With Haru (and now Natsume) coming into her life, Shizuku is beginning to realize that despite not wanting to make friends (she is most definitely an introvert – note her lack of energy when having to engage her new friends), she may indeed need them – that is, if Shizuku wants to become more than she is.
And that’s the rub.
For introverts like myself (and maybe you, too?), it’s easiest to sit still and ignore others – to just hide away in our own worlds. There is admittedly a sense of fulfillment in just doing what we want without others getting in our way. For those of us that are naturally shy (perhaps unlike Shizuku), this is doubly true.
But there’s a limit to how much you can grow as a person when you’re not developing relationships with others. We can’t be our own personal gods – we need to learn from others and interact with them to grow as people. I believe God designed it that way – He wants a relationship with us and he wants us to engage in relationships with others – after all, how can you love God and love others (Commandments number 1 and 2, according to Jesus) without relationship?
I think that’s what’s most important. We can grow in lots of ways by ourselves, but we can’t grow in love unless we put our love in action with others. The concepts of “love” and “relationship” are inseparable. And so, it’s no surprise that when Shizuku makes her first friends, she can also say something for the first time:
I love you.