Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pondering Effort and Eyeshield 21

I spent two and a half hours in self examination yesterday. The main theme in my thought process seemed to be perseverance. And since I’ve watched a lot of sports anime lately, I couldn’t keep analogies to anime out of my writing. Once I saw the reference to Eyeshield 21 develop, I knew I wanted to share an edited version here on my blog. I’ll just post the first, longer part of it today, and the second part later. It’s time I came back from my hiatus.

April 27, 2011

2:30 pm

I sit on the deck enjoying some of our warmest weather this year. A cool breeze brushes through my hair now and again, but the sun mostly makes up for it. It feels more like spring every week now.

I can’t believe it’s already April 27th. I wish time would just stop, or that all my homework would be easily completed. I have to finish in time to graduate – I give myself no other options. But part of me doubts. I haven’t kept up on my projects nearly as much as I should, and I haven’t even touched my Careers course work in who knows how many weeks. When I think about how behind I am, I honestly feel a bit ashamed. I don’t want anyone to know how behind I am. I don’t even want it to be true, but my wishes don’t change reality.

I think I’ve let myself off too easily. I used to do pretty well in not allowing myself to make excuses for giving less than my best in school. But I think I became a bit egotistical during the latest bout of anxiety and depression. I began to excuse a lower level of performance because of ADHD and anxiety. I put less and less effort into my schoolwork. Thinking about it, I feel lazy.

I could point to my mom and mention how she’s over-sympathized at times and perhaps babied me on occasion regarding any work on my part. But when it comes down to it, Mom holds absolutely no blame for my bad habits. I took advantage of every time she sympathized with me, adding to my belief that I simply couldn’t function, and even that I could hardly help myself. The part of me that refused to make excuses for myself gradually grew smaller and smaller. As I examine this now and type away on my laptop, I realize how much that attitude has changed. Back at the beginning of the school year, I still had an attitude of “I can do it! No excuses; let’s get this work done.” Then, at some point around February, that attitude made a smooth, quiet U-turn. It became an attitude of “I simply can’t function. There are so many deadlines approaching. Before I know it, June will be here. I can’t do this. I have to, but maybe if I take a break, maybe if I go easy on myself for a while, I’ll get better. Maybe.”

First I noticed anxiety come back, then depression. I started a new medicine a few weeks ago, though, and I definitely noticed a change. The depression and daily tearyness alleviated greatly. Even my anxiety is significantly lower. Yet I continue walking in a bit of a fog. I stay up too late (“I’m working on it!” I protest), I watch too much anime, I arrive late to Physics, and I don’t get all my homework hours in. I struggle to focus, but that’s no excuse. The fact is, I haven’t put forth the effort to walk away from temptation and concentrate on what needs to be done.

Effort. I know I need to put forth more effort, so why do I continuously choose to sit on my bed instead? Why don’t I apply my will to what needs to be done? I live a lifestyle of indulgence. I only apply myself to homework I enjoy, and cheerfully help out around the house if it suits me. I take a break and watch anime at my leisure, and can burn through 12 episodes a day without batting an eyelid. Sheesh, I don’t even put forth the effort to maintain my blog anymore! Just two months ago, I wrote blog posts at a fierce rate, and now? Now I’m on an indefinite hiatus, a so-called “mental vacation.” Sure, I was feeling very anxious and quite a bit depressed. All of my journal entries from March through a week or two ago have a rather dramatic, melancholy feel to them. But guess what? I’m feeling a bit better now. Sure, I’m not in perfect shape, but who is? What makes me special, so that I can slack off just because I have a psychiatrist? Everyone has bad days, but most people apply their will to do what needs to be done. They put their wants in perspective with their work.

Perhaps my perspective’s warped. I became used to making allowances for a “breaking” brain. I didn’t work around it – I worked according to it. I felt too teary to work on my Communism project? Fine, I’d write in my journal. I was too anxious to do about anything regarding the real world? That’s okay, I could watch an anime and make up for lost time the next day. This way of living has become a daily habit, and a concerning one. If I continue indulging myself like this, how will I survive in the adult world, with a job? How will I act as an adult member of the family? Scratch that, if I keep up this pace, how will I even graduate?

Even now, temptations pull at me. I want to write a story, or go for a walk, or do anything that means taking a break from applying my brain to the task before me. Part of me wonders if I can overcome this habit of indulging in temptation. Part of me thinks I might never focus on the necessary tasks like a mature adult. I know I can concentrate. I know I can be responsible, and I know I can crank out high quality work. I know I can take pride in all this. But instead, I keep looking at the clock, waiting for it to say 3:30 so I can go on a walk. And then I look at the clock and wonder how I could have wasted so much of my time today before I got to work.

The breeze picks up. I’m feeling a bit cold now, and think I’ll go inside in a minute. I wonder if I’ll go on my walk after all. I know I need to – I hardly get any exercise lately, and Ridgy would love to visit the creek. But it’s cold, and I need to make up missed hours of schoolwork.

I’m cold, but I’m not eager to return inside. I spend too much time in my room, on my computer. I need to get out and do things. But by the time I actually feel like doing those things (like the walk today), I realize that I’ve hardly done any work and I need to stay inside. This lifestyle is unhealthy – I know that. Maybe I’ll make myself go to sleep earlier tonight. Maybe I’ll listen to my alarms tomorrow and get started on my day in a healthy manner. Maybe, but the hope doesn’t seem as strong as it once did.

I recently finished an anime called Eyeshield 21. It’s 145 episodes long, so it actually lasted me a few days. And all 145 episodes were available, subtitled, on Crunchyroll. This detail is especially important since my February decision only to watch anime I know are legally uploaded online. Anyway, Eyeshield 21 is about Sena, a first year in high school (that is, a tenth grade student). His whole life, he’s been bullied, always acting as a gopher for the stronger, more assertive students. Overtime, he’s built up amazing speed to quickly get what the bullies ask him to, or on occasion to escape them.

Now that he’d in high school Sena decides to join a club. Through a series of interesting events, he ends up joining the football club, intending to be their manager. But when team captain Himura sees Sena use his phenomenal running and dodging to escape three delinquents, he decides Sena will join the team as the new running back. To keep other sports clubs from persuading Sena to switch to them (and to keep an over-protective childhood friend from pushing him to quit such a dangerous sport), Himura gives him a helmet with a green eye shield and jersey number 21 and dubs him “Eyeshield 21.”

Under the guise of Eyeshield 21, Sena becomes the ace of their small team, the Deimon Devil Bats. That’s a lot of pressure for someone who’s more used to being bullied than playing sports. Sena sometimes bends, but he doesn’t break. He endures harsh training and tough opponents, always improving his already incredible running.

And yet, Sena’s self confidence isn’t rock solid, even by the last dozen episodes. It’s better, but he still gets discouraged. There are times Sena’s confidence drops in a game, and he doesn’t pick himself right back up. It becomes tempting to think, “Come, on, you should be used to this by now! You always overcome the tough opponents! Always! So stop being so discouraged so quickly and concentrate already!” Instead of allowing those thoughts to manifest, I turn to my own life. How often do I give up too quickly? How often do I decide I can’t do something and lose concentration? Am I really in any place to call Sena a wimp?

I continuously excel in my classes. I demonstrated my abilities in a recent team competition related to government, even though we didn’t win. Can I really turn around and say, “I can’t work that hard on my Communist project”? I’m in no place to say I can’t pull together a good paper on Communism, even if it just looks like a jumble of notes and missing hours at this point. Yes, it’s intimidating. But so was that competition. There were times when we brainstormed and struggled with the best approach to a question. Yet we turned out excellent answers. Almost every paper I do, I wonder at some point if it will turn out well. And every paper receives an excellent grade. I can give results I’m proud of. I’ve proven this again and again, just as Sena continuously proves his ability to out run the other teams’ aces. I might not be able to sort my thoughts. I might lose track of time, and I might have done barely half the work I was supposed to yesterday. But just because I fell down yesterday doesn’t mean I have to fall down today.

One of Sena’s rivals and role models, Shin, nailed him again and again with his Spear Tackle. There were a couple of times that Sena stopped believing he could escape that painful tackle, “light speed” running or no. He nearly ran off the field and quit the game entirely the first time he encountered it. But after that, he stood up from each of Shin’s tackles and prepared to try again. When he didn’t escape, he took the details into account, put the failure behind him, and set out to run and dodge even faster the next time. Because of this tenacity, Sena evolved during and between his games against Shin – and he beat him. If Sena grew discouraged during a game, Shin took him out easily every time. But if he held steady and concentrated on his goal, Sena improved during the game and surpassed Shin.

I am not that different from Sena. If I allow my failures to weigh on me and dictate my actions, I continue to fail. I don’t get work done. But if I see what I did wrong, use it to plan my next action, and put my failure behind me, I succeed. I improve.

I want to mature, especially as high school nears its end and my eighteenth birthday approaches. I think maturing means moving forward, and I can’t move forward if my past mistakes weigh me down. It’s time for me to get up, shake off the last “spear tackle,” and concentrate on winning the next one.

*both pictures are from Eyeshield 21


  1. Exillent essay. With only ten days of high school remaining and the fact that I have been spending far to much time reading manga, I can relate intirely.
    I think that one other aspect of this is, that people are always doing something; what ever we do causes us to learn or just occupies or minds. It is when we focus on certain things that we are able to excel in them*. I also believe God is a huge part of this, by knowing him we can give the stress and pain up to him. I completely love this post. Amazing job.

    *we won't always succeed. I can't do higher levels of algebra very well, because I think spacually and conceptually.

  2. Thanks Zeroe!
    Only ten days left for you? o_o I have a bit longer, thankfully. Some people think of graduation as freedom, and I just think of the deadlines.
    It's so true that God is a big part of this. I really dislike change (and deadlines), so it's nice to know that God, at least, remains steadfast through the end of high school and the next phase of life.


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