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I Refuse to Let it End like This

Or… “How ‘Bocchi the Rock’ changed my life”.

There’s a meme going around the net, or at least there had been a while ago when this anime first came out, that said “She’s just like me fr fr”. (fr is “for real”.)

Gotoh Hitori (Bocchi) is not just like me.  Fr or in any other way.

But there are similarities.

I’ve had anxiety and some social anxiety all my life, and sometimes it’s been debilitating.  Not to the same degree as Bocchi (I’ve been able to integrate pretty well into society, right up until I can’t anymore) but it’s there.  So I kind of understand her.  But I kind of don’t at the same time.  As I said, my social anxiety, etc., is not a lot like hers, and I stopped trying to gain the approval of people a long time ago (though as a teenager I guess I was a teensy bit more like her than I am now.)

But there are things about her that I did identify with.  She had a dream, that one day she would play guitar in her school’s culture festival (that’s something Japanese schools seem to have that American schools most decidedly do not – I mean, after all, what culture do we have anyway?).  She started practicing guitar and in three years became scary good at it – to the point where she had a following of thirty thousand people on the anime YouTube simulacrum.  But she just couldn’t seem to make her dream come true.  She did everything she knew how to make her dream come true, and it just didn’t happen.

This, I completely identify with.

Eventually (through no fault of her own and frankly in spite of her best efforts) she found herself as part of a band, and was probably the most skilled member… though none of the other members knew it.  They kind of bumbled along until the day of their first concert… which happened during a typhoon, almost no one showed up, half of those who did didn’t want to see their band anyway… and they absolutely bombed the first song.  The drummer, Nijika, couldn’t find the beat, the singer, Kita, was making all sorts of mistakes…  and Bocchi stood there with her guitar watching her dreams die…  again.

Their song ended, and Kita was kind of fumbling through her emceeing… obviously rattled…  and then Bocchi thought of her fans.  The two girls who braved a typhoon to see her, and she said… “I refuse to let it end this way!”.  And then she, well…  Bocchi’d all over the stage.  By which I mean, she grabbed that guitar, hit the expression pedal, and proceeded to do a riff that made Nijika suspect her true identity, shocked Kita… and then Nijika hit the drums and they nailed it.

“I refuse to let it end this way”.

That became a mantra I have used multiple times since, whenever things seemed like they were going horribly, when I felt terrible, when I felt depressed, even hopeless… which is a lot of the time, if we’re being honest.  Those eight words are some of the most powerful words in any language.

People have a lot more agency than they think.

No one has perfect agency.  Not even someone like Elon Musk, whose money and to a lesser degree influence can cover a multitude of sins.  But no one is completely powerless either – well, almost no one.  It all has to do with your will.  Can you conceive of a different outcome, can you conceive of a way to achieve that outcome, and are you willing to stand up there and make things happen the way you want them to?

That’s what Bocchi did.  At the end of that episode, she was talking to Nijika outside at her afterparty, and Nijika said something like “You’re one heck of a hero to me.  Every time things seem at their worst, somehow you pull through for us.  With you around our dreams can come true.  I want to see more of Bocchi-chan’s rock.  Bocchi the Rock!” Then she giggles and walks away.

That’s what Bocchi did.  Through sheer force of will, and from a situation of serious disadvantage, she pulled through.  She refused to let it end that way.

What would life be like if we all said that?

I know that sometimes it’s not that easy.  In fact, sometimes it’s really difficult.  Sometimes it seems like there’s no hope at all or no options.  But I think there’s almost always an option, if you’re willing to take it, and see it through.  It’s often not an obvious option, it’s usually a difficult option, and it requires a lot of “thinking outside the box” to even see the option, much less make it happen.  But there’s always another option.

It’s easy to make excuses, really.  To say “it won’t work because of this, or that”, to accept being beaten down.  But the greatest people in history had that in common – even through the worst external circumstances, they were never beat down.

That’s the lesson of Bocchi the Rock.

She never stopped being socially anxious.  It’s probably something she’ll have to struggle with for the rest of her life.  But Nijika’s right.  She pulled through.  She always pulled through.  She’s maybe the strongest, most resilient girl in that anime.  Because she refused to let it end that way.

That is how “Bocchi the Rock” changed my life.

Because sometimes, when the chips are down for me, I just say “I refuse to let it end this way”, I step on that metaphorical expression pedal, and start Bocchi-ing all over whatever it is I’m doing.  And damned if it doesn’t work most of the time.

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