Being highly skilled at something makes us feel good. It’s a confident boost. It’s a skill that we can consistently do and know that the outcome will be positive more often than not. Recognizing our strengths, and also recognizing the limits of our strengths, is an important part of self-care that sometimes gets left out, overpowered by the images of hot springs, amazing scented oils, and snuggly blankets to hide in that the term self-care often evokes. The anime This Boy is a Professional Wizard (Kono Danshi, Mahou ga Oshigoto Desu) does a beautiful job of addressing this element of self-care.
Spoilers: There will be some spoilers for this anime. If you enjoy taking in a story without knowing about events that take place later, I don’t recommend reading much further until you’ve watched this anime!
Welcome to September’s OWLS Blog Tour
Every month, I join the voices of the Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-respect (OWLS) blogging project. The OWLS bloggers and vloggers use anime and other pop culture works to discuss a central theme promoting diversity, respect, self-acceptance, and equality. I feel proud to work with the OWLS team, so keep an eye out for future posts exploring important social issues. If you’re interested in these topics, be sure to check out the other OWLS blogs for each tour, or consider becoming an OWLS blogger or vlogger yourself!
This month, the OWLS are looking at “Self-care” in pop culture. Self-care is an important aspect of mental health. It means taking the time to appreciate yourself, taking a break from daily stress, taking the time to reward yourself for small and large things. Upkeeping self-care is an important part of positive and balanced mental health and shouldn’t be underestimated. Without this positive balance, we can fall into negative mental states that are difficult to escape from and take a toll on our lifestyle and relationships.
Knowing Your Strengths
Everyone has things that they’re good at and things that they struggle with. Recognizing our strengths is an important piece of self-care. Being able to identify something we excel at increases our confidence and makes us feel positive about ourselves. High confidence and positive feelings often contributes to other positive outcomes and leaves us feeling good, increasing our self efficacy.
Chiharu, the central protagonist of This Boy is a Professional Wizard, knows he’s good at magic. It’s something he’s confident at and knows that he can do reliably well. In fact, it’s the only thing he’s ever felt like he’s any good at. Of course, he really is good at it. His skills landed him a lead governmental position as captain of the Wizard Bureau’s Crisis Countermeasures Division.
Unfortunately for Chiharu, this element of self-care is a little unbalanced in his life and goes from being self-care to being something harmful. When we recognize our best strengths, we also need to take the time to recognize smaller strengths that we have. We don’t have to be good at everything, but we should be able to see that we are capable of doing things that we aren’t always praised for too. This is an element of self-care that Chiharu must learn the hard way.
When Your Strengths Become a Cage
Although recognizing what you’re good at is a part of self-care, in Chiharu’s case, it becomes a problem. Chiharu has only ever been highly praised for his magic, and never felt particularly good at anything else. Without realizing it, he’s internalized this to mean that he’s only useful because of his magic and that without magic, he’d be worthless.
When he meets the handsome Toyohi and they start dating, Chiharu’s turbulent feelings of self-worth begin to clash with his personal and professional lives. He finds himself unable to relax into the new relationship he’s building with Toyohi because he’s worried that the man only likes him because he can do magic. To add to his troubles, he starts throwing himself into piles of work at the office to make up for all of his other perceived failings.
Somewhere in the middle, Chiharu’s self-care gets left out of the equation entirely. Troublingly, when we lose self-care, we often end up in spirals where things only get worse. Chiharu lets his perspective relationship fall by the sidelines, and overworks himself to the point of collapsing. Instead of taking this collapse and resulting suspension from work as a sign that he needs to take better care of himself (as the suspension was intended to be taken), he takes it as a sign that he is entirely worthless. Having failed at recognizing any of his smaller tallents and self-worth up to this point, Chiharu can only see read this situation as himself failing at the one and only thing he can do well.
Sometimes, we can pull ourselves out of this kind of negative spiral by recognizing the need for self-care and implementing strategies for it. Other times, however, such as in Chiharu’s case, we need a little help from others. He isn’t able to overcome his negative spiral until Toyohi discovers what’s happening and breaks up Chiharu’s feelings of self-loathing. Only then is the wizard able to pull himself together and discover that his worth extends far beyond his magic, and that it’s ok to take it a little easier.
Thanks for joining me for this month’s exploration of “self-care.” If you’re interested in this topic, be sure to check out Megan’s post from yesterday over on Nerd Rambles. Megan’s taking a look at Autism and self-care. And tune in tomorrow for the next Blog Tour Stop over at Rai’s Anime Blog for a look at My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness.
Do you have any favorite examples of self-care in pop culture, or have you had personal experiences with the importance of self-care in your own life? Share it in the comments! You can also connect on Twitter at @Popliterary, or send a message on the “contact” page. And as always, if you have a literary device or grammar rule you want to know more about, or a game, comic, show, or movie that you want to see make an appearance on the blog, leave a shout-out in the comments!