When I was in a counseling session for depression once every two weeks,
I told my counselor, “I fail at everything I do since I took a leave of absence. I make plans, buy books, and sign up for exams, but I’m not ready in time and get nothing done. I just repeat this cycle. Even today, I was late for the counseling. I’ll do my best next time,” to which I got the following reply:
The counselor says,
"This seems to be deep-seated.”
“What do you mean?”
The counselor says, "In the era of Reiwa, people aren’t trying so hard anymore, so no one gets upset or annoyed even if you don't try hard.”
Apparently, I keep saying, "I'll do my best" as if it were a spell. Indeed, many of my friends I continue to see after my leave of absence say, “I quit trying hard at work” a lot. I hear it so often. Many people say so. I am surprised at how often I hear this.
On the other hand, until I took a leave of absence, I would discuss the hardships of work only with my best friend, who was working as hard as I was. We would praise each other and complain, working so hard that I could barely keep standing.
And the counselor says,
“It’s wonderful to try hard. You’re a wonderful person who knows how wonderful it is, and even if you quit trying so hard and take a little break among those who don't try so hard, you wouldn’t fall behind at all. You’d keep trying hard unless something stops you like this. And when you finally take a break, it's not a standstill, it's an energy charge: when you're done, you go back to your career. While everyone around you isn’t trying hard, you recharged your energy, so you’ll soon be a step or even three steps ahead of them. So, don't try too hard now. Understand? Haha”
Even so, I most likely can’t stop trying hard, and she knows that too, but the conversation made me feel so much better.
I heard that people who try too hard are apt to become depressed.
I feel uncomfortable when people tell me, “You are mentally weak” or “You are too sensitive.” It makes me want to say, "No, that’s not true.”
Perhaps the people who would say, "No, that’s not true” unconsciously push themselves too far and become depressed unexpectedly.
When you think of depression, you may imagine "living in darkness once you become depressed" or "wandering around in a dark cave for an absurdly long time and getting out there with your back hunched."
You might also picture that its beginning is so dark, like “my entire life has been a dark age.”
But that was not true for me. I found that out when I became depressed.
I had a significant trigger a year ago, and I was diagnosed with something which made me take a break from work. Until then, it wasn’t that my life had been dark, but rather that it had been sturdy without any major setbacks.
It just so happened that a shadow came over me a year ago, and it was so unfortunate that I just don't have enough energy to blow it away yet.
But that shadow is like a fog that clears up occasionally, not a passing shower that follows me all the time. That's why I was able to work hard, even too hard. And I could run without falling because the sun shines on me once in a while.
Even though it has been a while since I became depressed, not every day is cloudy or rainy. Sometimes I feel so joyful, and there are even sunny days where I’m like "A day off, yay!” Also, there are some days when I completely forget that I’m a person with clinical depression.
Even the sun sets on the other side of the earth, leaving the moon to illuminate us for 12 hours, or even longer depending on the season, right?
So, it is okay to stop trying so hard and let someone else run the race for me, guiding myself who lived one’s life too hard and too fast to the pit instead.
Even though the sun lets the moon take care of more than half of a day, everyone on Earth still loves it and awaits its energy. Like the sun, even if you don’t try so hard, each of us lives while being loved by a multitude of people. Even if you don’t try hard, the people who love us are always there, and we are sharing energy unknowingly.
Just like the moon and the sun exists, maintaining the balance between them.
Therefore, we, who don’t try too hard, are not Generation Z, Millennials, or anything else that can be blamed on by the previous generation; rather, we are the individuals who are living well, maintaining leeway in our hearts to take good care of ourselves.
Some of us can run forever while others can run better with an occasional energy charge. And others want to move forward slowly and surely.
We are the people who know their way of life rather than those who are not trying too hard. This is an omnibus of good ways of life made by each one of us.
Translated by Kyoko Itagaki
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphic by Ren Ono