This past week, I’ve been sharing one of my favorite series, Genshiken, with my wife. She’s been enjoying it, primarily because of the characters. The one that she most gets, I think, is Sasahara, whose anxiety and trepidation are on display from the beginning of the first episode. When he demonstrates just how shy he is by not being able to approach representatives of the college clubs to chat, I was going to remind my wife that I used to be like Sasahara, but before I could, she exclaimed, “That’s you!”
Wait, no, that used to be me…right?
I’ve come a long way over the years. My biggest fear growing up and into my young adulthood was embarrassment. I never wanted the spotlight on me unless I was wholly and totally prepared, with everything within my control. Failure was not an option. So instead, I would hide away and creep off to the side where I couldn’t possibly look foolish in front of others, not realizing that being slump-shouldered and looking fearful was making me look just that way.
I’ve grown up, mostly because of how God took me through the fire and showed me how good his grace is. In fact, you could say I’m pretty happy with myself with where I am in life. But that satisfied feeling is puffing me up. So when my wife told me I reminded her of Sasahara, I wondered to myself, why that guy? Why not Kousaka? Why not the cool guy?
The truth is, for how much I’ve grown, I still often retreat into my inner Sasahara. I avoid making conversations with strangers in public, even if the situation calls for it. I hate making phone calls. I rarely volunteer to speak up. I might be, like, episode 24 Sasahara now, but I’m still Sasahara. I’m not Kousaka.
But you know what? When I think about it, I don’t want to be Kousaka. For all his good looks and charm and the fact that he gets the girl, he, too, has many faults. As my wife and I remarked, Kousaka is not just unbelievably dense, he’s often selfish, a quality hidden by his optimistic tones.
I’ve realized that, in anime language, Kousaka is Kousaka, and Sasahara is Sasahara (I am me). I need to grow and mature along my own path, to love God, care for my family, and be a light to the world in the body and mind that I have, instead of trying to be someone better. The goal, I’ve realized, isn’t to change from Sasahara to Kousaka; it’s simply to be the best Sasahara I can be.