I have been, and will be mediocre my whole life. I obviously won’t live to become any revolutionary activist, electrifying trailblazer, or gutsy firebrand. I’m the type of average person who feels terribly sad and unjust on behalf of the malnourished, exploited third-world citizens, yet I will never lift a finger to help them. Verbally, I may lambast and lampoon the cruelty and deviousness of selfish humans. And still yet, i’ll go on living comfortably and taking hour-long baths (whoops, that could have been a week’s worth of water resource for some Nepalese family).
My current self has little motivation, little will, and little passion in it. This passion that the teachers love to speak of– follow your passion, and with enough determination you will reach your dream– what if I don’t have such a passion? What do I rely on to push myself further? How the hell will learning about the binomial theorem or matrices make me a more complete person? I want to earn big money and live luxuriously, but as what?
I have been drowning in mediocrity for the past four years of my life, slacking through every single day, immersing myself in superficial worries and basically establishing myself as a friendly classmate with a nonexistent personality. I have never put in any effort into my studies, never seen any significance in reading up unless it pulls up my grades. I don’t have any foundation to start next year with, and of course I haven’t revised anything during the holidays. Because i’m lazy and I give up too easily, right?
Recently, I quarreled with my brother and had no qualms about insulting him freely, calling him blockhead, a self-righteous little saint (extra offense because he’s a devout Christian), and basically told him to use your head to think, if there’s even anything inside. Yes, it’s all ad hominem and I just bombarded derogatory terms upon derogatory terms over him. I had always been rude and easily, jokingly belittled the people I was familiar with, yet when it was my turn to be criticized I could not stand it. Upon reflection, it was entirely my fault– I was petty and hurtful. I wouldn’t acknowledge a truth that looked bad on me.
Looking back, I understand why my brother held his tongue and tried to calmly make peace all whilst I was deliriously spurting out all that poison. He treasured our relationship, and knew it would be irreversible if he pushed further– on the other hand, i’d never really cared about our bond. I felt like shit afterwards. I thought of the moments where I silently allowed myself to be the long-standing joke of the group (“you sweat so much after exercising, you’re always stinky!”) not only because everyone laughed and it was fodder for new conversation, but because I knew how hard casual friendships in huge groups were to maintain. I cared a lot about not being alone, perhaps way more than I cared for my brother.
I’m always being a contradictory mediocre asshole. I think of insults like ever-correct baldy when arguing with my father, yet when someone dares to mention that he’s balding in front of his face, I get extremely pissed. I deliberately hurt and slight my mother whenever I feel like it. And when things don’t go my way, I’d act like a pitiful kid whose life is going to be over. Then my parents would crowd around me and tell me that i’m still the best child ever.
So this is what sparked this entire post: I failed to get a humanities scholarship that I really wanted. The story is pathetic. Thought it would be a piece of cake as long as I did as well as I had always done– obviously I didn’t. Spent two months fraught with desperate hope and crazed despair. I was highly emotional, alternating between both extremes. Deep in my heart, I knew that I would not be successful, but there was always that nagging pride and belief that somehow, I would pull through. Didn’t have the heart to concentrate on anything else before the official results came out. I died metaphorically day by day, until today.
You must be thinking: boy, this loser can’t even handle such a minor setback. Yup. I’m just pretty much feeling like that mediocre loser that I am right now (this will not be a self-fulfilling prophecy, i’m just emotional now).
I read Sakamichi no Apollon while I was listlessly accepting that fact that had subconsciously registered itself within me months ago. This manga is a flawless representative of good slice-of-life stories. Such stories always make setbacks look possible to get over. Because it shows us how everyone falls into slumps. Deep slumps. People get self-centered, mean and make all the wrong choices. But at the end of the day, you’re not the only one who can save yourself– family, good friends, will never leave you behind. School life seems to have so much more meaning, if only one searches for it. There needs to be meaning in living.
The manga focuses much on friendship– such a commonplace but elusive concept. I had always admired the tenacious ties of friendship of manga characters and I guess everyone just wants someone to really be there for them, always, no matter what.
We all want to be someone greater. Maybe we all could, if we desperately tried. But would we?
Edit: Emotions always clouds perspective. Perhaps all is not as bleak as it seems.