Saturday, May 9, 2020

Do Your Best! (Ganbatte)

I worked at my local public library for 8 years, and during the last two years of my time there, I lead a teen anime club. It was an experience, let me just say. There were parts of it that I LOVED and parts of it that just made me supremely sad. Because it's hard to be in a leadership position of teenagers, or anyone really, as a Christian, and find that part of your group has a tendency towards the more deadly sub-culture of a fandom. Especially when it was in a secular working environment where I couldn't really nay-say too much, but at the same time, needed to keep as firm a hand as possible so things didn't get out of control.

Fast-forward to now. It's been a little over 6 years since I changed jobs and companies. I gave up my love of Japan when I moved to my new role. Partially because of that sub-culture thing that I mentioned, and partially because I didn't really think that my new job would be as accepting of my interest in Japanese culture and entertainment. Which is sad, because it means that I lost more than 6 years of my life to not loving something anymore that I actually still do love. 

Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (The Wallflower) Japanese drama cast
A favorite JDrama Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (2010) starring Kamenashi Kazuya (far left)

For a lot of people, Japanese entertainment probably seems foreign (well, duh), but there are elements to it that have always really spoken to me and inspired me as an individual and it comes down to one specific phrase or word Ganbatte. Literally translated, this means "Do your best." That's the heart of Japanese culture as I see it, to do your best, to try your hardest, no matter what situation you might find yourself in, to not give up, because it's selfish and foolish to give up instead of pushing through. 

When I worked at the public library I weighed about 30 pounds less than I do currently. My weight has always fluctuated depending on my mental headspace and how courageous I feel about being able to tackle it and bring it into submission. It's a challenging and terrifying concept. But I did the best with my weight when I was watching Japanese live-action dramas. You see, I stopped my love of Japanese entertainment when I left the library because of my experience with the Anime Club and its exhausting effect on my spiritual and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, this also included giving up my Japanese live-action dramas and their music which were never a part of the Anime Club. I viewed it as an all or nothing scenario when that's just not so. I find it funny now to look back and realize that my weight loss, because I was losing weight at that time, was a result of my love for these live-action dramas. They inspired me to do my best, to fight for my health, to not give up even when the road got hard. My diet was healthier, I took up running and strengthening exercises, and was overall a stronger person.

By walking away from the Jdramas, I lost something very inspirational in my life and my motivation to better myself, both physically and mentally.

This week I've reconnected. I've re-watched two of my favorite Jdrama series and I feel like a different person than I was at the start of the week. If some of my favorite characters can push themselves through inner doubts and fears and trials to become the best version of themselves they can be, if they can do their absolute best and emerge triumphantly, then so can I. 

The One Pound Gospel (2008) Japanese drama cast photo
Another favorite JDrama One Pound Gospel (2008) also starring Kamenashi Kazuya

During the first 3 weeks of the stay at home/safer at home part of the COVID-19 pandemic, I managed to gain 7 pounds. Then in the last 3 weeks, I managed to lose them again. My sister and I are eating almost no sugar, no snacks during the day, and starting this last week, I've added a daily strengthening (EXHAUSTING!) exercise routine into every day because I started up my Jdramas again and the inspiration is still there, to be the best me that I can be, for my sake and for the sake of my family. After 3 weeks of a much healthier eating lifestyle, I can tell that it's made a huge impact on my life. I feel better emotionally and physically, and now throwing the exercise in, I'm starting to see positive results. And I can trace the inspiration to my favorite Jdramas and their message of Do your best!

I'm not saying that everyone should start watching Jdramas in the hope of losing weight and developing discipline. That's my thing and it would be ridiculous to imagine it's a one-size-fits-all solution.

But there is likely something in your life that encourages you and inspires you to become better than what you are currently. It may be something you've lost or merely misplaced for a season. It may be something you've forgotten about completely. Or it may be you've never even thought about it and really need to start evaluating your interests on a more serious, intentional level! But if there is something that inspires you to grow in strength and discipline, then pursue it. Chase it. Stop listening to the inner voice of doubt that likes to nitpick and criticize. You can do it. Ganbatte! ❤


  1. I'm glad you've managed to reconnect to something you love. :) May it continue to inspire you.

    1. It's been helpful, that's for sure. And it reminded me why I love the young Johnny Depp so much. He has very similar exotic features to Kamenashi Kazuya, my favorite Japanese actor. :)


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