I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting recently, in part because I turned 23 today. On this day, on December 14th in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Ninety-three, a Tuesday, I was born in a hospital near Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Fast forward 19 years and a continent later, where, soon after my 19th birthday, I left the university I’d grown to love after a single semester. It was a place where I made a lot of friends, did well in class (when I, uh, bothered to show up), and was playing an active role on two design teams (their sounding rocket and Formula SAE teams, the former on designing their payload housing assembly and the latter designing a custom oil pan.) I also hated it, because I knew early on I wouldn’t get to stay, and so none of my plans and ambitions and relationships would blossom. Knowing why I wouldn’t get to stay felt very unfair (spoilers: it was money.)
And though I knew it wasn’t exactly my fault my parents didn’t have the money to keep putting me through school, I took that very much as a personal failing. “If I had worked harder, I would have been able to get a scholarship. If I’d worked part-time, I could have at least paid for my fees this year.” I really, really wanted to stay. So when my parents showed up at my dorm, on an appropriately downcast and snowy day in December, the morning after my final exams (exams which I can at least say I absolutely crushed), I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to go home.
I remember locking myself into my bedroom – or, rather, my parents’ bedroom, because my bedroom had been rented out to help make ends meet, and so I slept in a corner in my parents’ bedroom – and sulking for days. I didn’t actually have a lot to do during that time – I was going through the process of applying for community college (which was then one of the most mortifying experiences of my entire life; I had always thought myself intellectually above community colleges, as if they were something for weak or stupid people – how wrong I would be), and none of my high school friends were really available during that time (not that I would have had the courage to stand in front of them anyway.) So I did what any other dweeb does when he’s depressed – I watched a lot of anime.
I think I got into Hyouka around then, and was finishing up Sword Art Online. I would eventually start and finish Toradora (that makes for a story for another time, another day.) And around that time, I started torrenting a show around that time that caught my attention on /r/anime. It was Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo.
I’m not gonna make a lot of excuses about the actual plot – lord knows I’ve complained about it both then and now. Bobduh ripped into the series, in what I realized later was the first time I’d followed someone’s critique of a show and what would likely be my first real introduction to aniblogging. Let’s just say that it has a lot of problems.
But I also think at that time and place in my life, seeing a series that tackled (even in a mangled or unhealthy way) the feeling of being a loser surrounded by winners, meant a lot to me. I spent much of my teenage years surrounded by quite literally some of the smartest people in the country, and even nowadays I’m still very good friends with them. But that proximity always injected a measure of poisononous jealousy on my end into our relationship, and just like Sorata, failing while being around them exacerbated the hurt (and, frankly, still does, much as I try to not let it.) I related to Sorata way more than I would like to admit, and seeing him get knocked down and get whiny and yell and bitch felt weirdly cathartic. And seeing him (in a kind of rushed and convenient way) eventually come to terms with his own talent and accept he won’t always be as good as those around him, but that he should still try, left an impression on me. Sakurasou was usually a piddling, running-in-circles romantic dramedy that tried to be Toradora but failed. But at times, it could delve into some of the uglier, more humans bits of being an adolescent dealing with their inadequacies and failures.
I’m doing a lot better nowadays. I’m not exactly someone I would call super successful yet, but I feel like I’m a bit less of a failure than I used to be. I’m back in school (actually, just one more semester away from graduating!), with at least one job offer lined up, something like a legacy to leave behind at my school, and a few people I can call comrades and friends. I’m really uncertain about my future, and like I said earlier, my tendency towards envy means that I still get angry when others succeed when I don’t. But I’m aware of it, and I try to fight it. And I still fail a lot (I got really bad grades this semester…), but I want to keep trying – because once or twice I’ve managed to succeed, and that motivates me to keep going. Sakurasou didn’t teach me this on its own, but it definitely contributed.
It’s four years late, but I just wanted to say: Thank you, Sakurasou, for helping me out.
It’s time to sleep. Good night, everyone.
P.S. Pingback to Frog-kun for being Nanami-x-Sorata-4-lyfe like me https://frogkun.com/2013/05/31/shipping-sorata-x-nanami-sakurasou-no-pet-na-kanojo/