FOREWARD: I would just like to state up front that these are my opinions. I am no expert nor will I ever be on the topics mentioned. Thanks for understanding. Also extremely minor spoilers for A Silent Voice.

Yes, I have other interests other than sports. Yes, I’m a weeb. What of it?

My friends and I just recently watched a movie called A Silent Voice. The movie follows a Japanese high school student named Shoya Ishida, and how he and his elementary school classmates reconnect with Shoko Nishimiya, a deaf girl that they used to bully in elementary school.. After years of receiving the same treatment that he gave Shoko, Shoya reconciles with his past mistakes and with the old friends along the way.

The movie is a work of art, truly. But I am no master movie critic. It has made me think a lot over the days since I’ve seen the movie, and about the importance of self-love.

Japanese culture is such that standing out from the crowd is seen as wrong. As you can imagine, you really stand out when you are deaf. One character, Naoko Ueno, continues to attack Shoko for her disability even in high school, and Shoko always replies simply with “I’m sorry.”

This is really what killed me, and that she has to apologize for things out of her control. She struggles with the thoughts of worthlessness that continue to haunt her. Sadly, these are so prevalent in our society today.

Everyone knows the stereotype of having to fit in and be cool in high school. If you do something out of the norm, you are cast out as some kind of freak. Kids say horrible shit to one another, and yes they may be kids and don’t fully understand the gravity of their actions, but at the same time we are still so impressionable that those words stick with people, and the insecurities may not ever go away. 

I see it so often in my own friends and loved ones. That they see themselves as not funny, or that they suck, and what have you. It kills me to see them think that way, and to not see the genuine, and uniquely amazing people that they are. I’m no saint, don’t get me wrong, but as an optimist I try to see the good. And it’s a whole new level of pain when someone doesn’t love themselves.

I question why the human brain thinks this way, and I got an answer from a friend that really stuck with me. “Humans strive for perfection, but know that they can’t have it.” It’s the perfect response. You see it so often with social media, the desire for one to find validation in empty likes from random strangers, and not from the people that matter, or from themselves.

And that was my major takeaway from this movie: the need for self-love. As gushy and romanticized as it sounds, I believe that love is the most powerful emotion one can feel. It can help you ascend to a level of bliss unrivaled by anything else, or it can tear your heart in two. Humans crave love, and it’s something we all constantly search for in life. While at first glance that seems like it’s at the level of romantic partners, and it is, there’s also a need for people to feel that love about themselves. We need to embrace differences and not outcast people for who they are, what they believe in, or things out of their control (like being deaf). The hell that kids go through in middle and high school, with all of the hormones and angst, is incredibly destructive, and we all need to feel the love for ourselves a little more. 

Nobody is worthless, and it is never worth taking your own life. Every person has something beautiful to offer the world, and we need to embrace that. 

Thanks for reading all of my gushy word vomit. Watch A Silent Voice, it’s a beautiful film whether you’re a fan of anime or not. And if you are ever struggling with suicidal thoughts please contact your closest suicide hotline. We all have something to give this world.

And please, love yourself. Because I love you, beautiful person reading this post.