Have you noticed how we humans use labels to define our entire being? “I am an introvert”, “ I am a Virgo”, “ I am a wicked Igbo woman.” Of course, some of these labels are important and I use them a lot. I particularly enjoyed using the “I have a short attention span” label whenever someone asked me why I do not watch anime. Recently, I used the label in conversation with a friend about anime and he replied: “Let me cure you of it.” I argued with him:
“See guy, my mind no fit change.”
He insisted and I decided to succumb. And so, we set off on a mission to cure me. His cure came in the form of the anime, Attack on Titans: he made me watch it under his supervision and in the process, something interesting happened.
Growing up, I did not hate anime as most people would say I told them. My older cousin lived with us and he had all the seasons of Naruto that were available at that time. It was then I heard the theme song, Bluebird and I even made it my ringtone. The problem was I could not watch them alone. I’d prefer to watch with others because I needed their fervor towards the anime to keep me awake lest I sleep off. With Attack on Titans though, the interesting thing that happened is that I fell in love. I still can’t believe it but I did. Or was it sheer determination?
First, kudos to the writers. They were marvelous with the storytelling. I saw myself puzzled, gaining clarity, analyzing, predicting, and understanding the characters and the impulses behind their actions. I don’t know but the fact that it was Japanese added to the intrigue, maybe it’s because my ears that are used to English heard it as beautiful and interesting unlike the English I have heard so many times that it registers no emotions anymore. I liked the highs and lows of commands like I love when my mother dishes out steaming hot jollof rice from the cooler. I now understand anime fans. I went from watching half an episode a day to two episodes and quadrupled it. Yes, it was that good! Even Sex Education, one of the handful of series I thoroughly enjoyed, did not have me in a chokehold this way. I enjoyed watching Attack on Titans because it is wonderful entertainment and perhaps, the swoon worthy looks of several of the male characters. Regardless, I could not resist the urge to learn valuable life lessons that gave birth to this piece. Labels are a must for boundaries, yes but we may be missing out on life and its experiences if we hold on to some of what we have labeled ourselves as.
“So fishes should leave the water because of adventure?”
That’s not the point (insert eye-roll).
If you watched Penguins of Madagascar, you’d see how Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private were determined to break from the norm of just being cute and having humans document their lives all day long. If my friend did not insist that I watch this anime, I’d have been missing out on the action of slaying titans, the way my heart flutters by seeing Commander Erwin, and seeing the sheer determination of the Survey Corps to eliminate titans from their nation. I would not have had the aspirations to tell stories as good as this. Probably the same way we would not have heard the wonder that is the song, Need You if Fireboy DML did not get the urge to write about reaffirming his feelings.
Think about it. What labels are preventing you from making those decisions? Those boxes and chains you need to break out from? Do I have a short attention span? Or is it just an excuse to save my data and prevent me from “wasting” valuable time? While I may not have the answers to these questions as I have not given them longer thought, I am determined to not let the labels I have limited myself to stop me.
This takes me back to the first time I read Why You Act The Way You Do by Tim LaHaye. I was pretty much still young and I interpreted my temperament as one who was going to die alone and unfit to lead. I believed this for a long time. I am slowly learning to let go of the reins of needing to label myself.
One of such labels is my being a woman. In my subconscious, there are limitations I have placed, accomplishments I have said I would be unable to reach because I am a woman. But then I read one of Angel Nduka-Nwosu’s essays and it leveled me up:“… I want Nigerian women including myself to begin to cough out all the dreams we have hidden in our chests out of fear that we may never accomplish them.” Her words made me realize that being a woman is a strength, not a label to hide. Unfortunately, we still live in a world that caters to men first but there are women out there, as Phoebe Buffay gloriously said, with asses that won’t quit. While letting us know we can do it too.
“You must learn to incorporate audacity, entitlement, positive self-centeredness and shamelessness should you desire to live your best authentic life as a woman” is another of Angel Nduka-Nwosu’s wise sayings.
I am, also, saying I am a woman. I can do anything I set my mind to do. I will write my name on the sands of time. These are my labels.