I think we all have that person in our lives who is just chomping at the bit to give us advice. You know the type, the one who just lays it out even when—especially when—you didn’t ask for their opinion. Pretty annoying, huh?
Well, in considering who that person might be in my life I figured this out: I think I’m that person. I try not to give advice, and oftentimes I’m able to hold back, but usually I just can’t help myself. And I don’t want to be like that. I’d rather listen and share, instead of hearing and suggesting.
In that way, I want to be like a character that’s really grown on me over the years—Ayane from Kimi ni Todoke. When everyone around her is trying to help Kazehaya and Kuronuma get together, Ayane realizes that all these “friends” are actually driving the two apart, and as the most mature person involved, she chooses the best path—to trust in the two and let them figure it out.
Ayane has always been like that. From the very beginning, she’s our “back to reality” character, the one who gives a hidden wink at the audience, knowing what we know, that Kazehaya has feelings for Kuronuma and, although she’s unable to figure it out at first, Kuronuma likes him, too. Sometimes, Ayane will say something that kind of pushes the two together, or set up a situation in which they’ll be alone, but she refuses to tell one or the other the truth. As much as it frustrates her, Ayane won’t do what those two need to do themselves.
This is true even when things are falling apart, even when Kento does what I would do—analyze the situation and offer advice that he believes will help—thereby making a total mess of things (“Kazehaya likes someone” who isn’t you, Kuronuma, cause how could he possibly?). Ayane is tempted to bring the two together herself, but remains steadfast in her belief that they should be the ones to advance the relationship, not an outsider.
In the end, of course, Kuronuma and Kazehaya do what they should. They’re honest and clear about their feelings. And finally, the title of the series—Kimi ni Todoke, or From Me to You—is fulfilled as each is able to communicate honestly to the other.
That won’t always happen, not in real life anyway. Plus, Kuronuma and Kazehaya are special characters, special people—Ayane could trust them to make those decisions. But I realize that many times Ayane’s way, letting people find themselves, is what I should do as well. I mentor people each year, and while part of that experience means providing advice, an overarching idea is that to help them learn, we must through experiences ourselves; it’s often best to guide, like Ayane does, instead of helping one avoid a situation totally and without knowing quite why.
I also discover that when I’m slower to talk, there’s something in it for me, too. I get a sense of fulfillment in doling out advice based on my wisdom and experience, but there’s something even better in not doing that and seeing lives change anyway. I’m humbled and reminded that I lack control, that I’m not the end-all, be-all, that there is someone greater than me. I’m much smaller than I give myself credit for, and the grace which is poured onto this smallness lifts me up and makes me feel simultaneously much larger than I deserve and more valued than I thought I was—and I could use those feelings in abundance as they come with a little less of “me to you.”